Associated Dermatology and Skin Cancer Clinic of Helena notified 1,254 patients of a breach of unsecured personal patient protected health information.
On May 26, an Associated Dermatology employee learned that someone had broken into her car and taken a journal she had been keeping for personal use to assist her in her care of Associated Dermatology patients. She reported the incident to Associated Dermatology the same day.
The file contained only the following information: names and ages of patients who saw a physician assistant between September 1, 2017, and May 24, 2018; the reasons and dates of the patients’ visit(s) during that time frame; the referring physician, if any; a brief description of patient’s medical history; and brief notes regarding the visits. Associated Dermatology has no knowledge that the information has been viewed, used, or misused by anyone.
Law enforcement authorities have been notified and are working to locate and safeguard the information. The information did not contain data such as social security numbers, dates of birth, or insurance information that could be used for purposes of identity theft, but Associated Dermatology has advised patients to be aware of this incident so that they can exercise caution and be alert to suspicious activity that could result. For example, a patient could be contacted by someone who has this information and fraudulently misrepresents his or her purpose in an effort to get the patient to share additional personal information which could be used for identity theft or other malicious purposes.
This incident occurred despite strong safeguards Associated Dermatology has established to protect the privacy of its patients’ information.
As a result of this incident, Associated Dermatology is working to further strengthen these safeguards, to address the incident, and to put additional measures in place to minimize the chance that such an incident could occur again. The incident will also be reported to the United States Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.For additional information, patients can contact Associated Dermatology’s Privacy Officer Corina Cook at (406) 324-7453 or [email protected].
Please direct all questions to Corina Cook. July 1, 2018