Breach in online payment system for Lawrence Memorial Hospital exposed up to 10,000 patients’ credit card or checking information

A public notice issued by Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Lawrence, Kansas that appeared on 6News (but not, apparently, on the hospital’s web site yet):

On October 28, 2011, Lawrence Memorial Hospital learned that certain information maintained by Mid Continent Credit Services, Inc., d/b/a Blue Sky Credit, the hospital’s vendor for online patient bill-pay services, was inadvertently made publicly available on the Internet between September 20, 2011 and October 28, 2011. The information involved did not include any medical records and was not released by the hospital.

The event occurred as a result of failed security measures on a website hosted by BrickWire LLC, which hosted the online patient bill-pay service on behalf of Mid Continent Credit Services. This event affects individuals who have made online payments and patients for whom online payments were made. Individuals who made online payments for Health Fairs may be affected as well. The following types of information may have been available, depending on what information was entered into the online payment system by the person making the payment:

Patient name, phone number, e-mail address, health care provider, payment amount, and date of payment;

Credit card information including the type of card, name and address of the card holder, the account number, the verification number, and the expiration date; OR

Checking account information including the check number, the account holder name and address, the checking account number and bank routing number, and the bank name and address.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital takes the privacy and security of individuals’ information very seriously. Upon discovery of the event, we immediately notified Mid Continent Credit Services, which coordinated with BrickWire to immediately disable the system and implement measures to disable access to the information. We are continuing to follow up with Mid Continent Credit Services regarding the event, and are currently in the process of arranging for a new online payment system. We will take any other measures determined to be necessary to prevent a similar event from occurring in the future.

Although we do not know whether any information was accessed, as a precaution, individuals who have made online payments and patients for whom online payments were made are being advised in a letter to be aware of any suspicious activity on their account statements and monitor their credit reports. Additionally, Mid Continent Credit Services has agreed to offer a free one-year credit monitoring subscription to affected individuals.

Individuals with questions about this event should call Lawrence Memorial Hospital at 785-505-4945 or contact us by e-mail [email protected]

Okay, by most standards, this is a really bad breach. Really bad. I hope the host checks logs to see how many accesses there were or whether there was any suspicious activity. And I wonder how they “discovered” the breach – did a patient notify them or did they discover this internally?

Update:  Media now reports that the breach may have affected 10,000 patients. And for the “breaches have consequences” file:

Janice Early, LMH director of community relations, said … the hospital is arranging for a new online payment system with a new vendor.

So was the breach the responsibility of the vendor of the web host? From the spokesperson’s statement, it sounds like the vendor is being blamed.  It would be nice to get confirmation as to whose error this was.  In the meantime, a notice on the online payment system page of the hospital’s web site says:

Online bill pay is currently undergoing maintenance and is unavailable. If you have any questions, please call (785) 505-3290

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