CA: Tarleton Medical discloses breach involving protected health information

Note: the following notification is not from the health center at Tarleton State University, but from a family medicine practice in Rancho Mirage, California owned by Harold L. Tarleton, M.D.

I am writing to inform you of a data security incident that may have affected your personal information. Tarleton Medical (“TM”) is committed to providing excellence in your health care and information management. We take the privacy and security of your personal information very seriously and regret any concern that this incident may cause you. That is why we are contacting you, offering you credit monitoring and identity monitoring services, and informing you about steps that can be taken to protect your personal information.

What Happened? On January 6, 2017, TM learned of a data security incident that may have affected personal information contained in your medical records. Access to the server which stored these records was immediately disabled. We launched an investigation and engaged a digital forensics firm to determine what happened and whether any medical records were accessed without authorization. On February 2, 2017, the digital forensics firm confirmed that TM’s computer systems were accessed without authorization and indicated that patient records may have been accessed as well. This letter serves to inform you of the incident and to share with you the services we are providing to protect your personal information.

What Information Was Involved? The following personal information may have been accessed without authorization — names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and health care claims information.

What Are We Doing? As soon as we discovered that TM’s computer systems and patient files may have been accessed without authorization, we took the steps described above. We also reported the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and will provide whatever cooperation is necessary to hold the perpetrators accountable. We are also providing you with information about steps you can take to protect your personal information and we are offering you credit and identity monitoring services for 12 months at no cost to you. We have also taken steps to enhance the security of TM patient information to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Read more on the California Attorney General’s site. So far, this has not been posted to HHS’s web site.  Note that the notification doesn’t tell us how Tarleton Medical learned of the breach. Did they discover it through their own auditing, were they notified by law enforcement, did a patient contact them to report a problem – what happened?  Nor do they disclose when the breach first occurred. For how long did unauthorized individuals have access to patient records?


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