Feb 272019

Joanne Carroll reports:

A health board employee  is under investigation after “misplacing” hundreds of patients’ medical information – some of which are still missing.

The Canterbury and West Coast District Health Board only became aware of what it calls a “potential privacy breach” when a member of the public found some of the documents in the Christchurch suburb of Hornby on February 11.

The documents contained 300 people’s names and health numbers, and at least 15 patients’ private health information such as clinical notes. One affected patient said she was told her medical notes had “blown away in a gust of wind”.

Read more on Stuff.

Update:  Laura Mills of the Otago Daily Times subsequently reported additional details:

The West Coast District Health Board has launched a full investigation after confidential patient information concerning 300 patients from Grey Base Hospital was found in a Christchurch suburb.

Some of the documents remain missing, raising fears that they may have been destroyed.

Responding to a query from the Greymouth Star, the board yesterday admitted the ”potential” privacy breach, which it said related to a ”serious employment issue”.

Read more on Otago Daily Times.

Feb 152019

Someone asked me today about the lack of W-2 phishing reports or W-2 incidents that we’ve seen so far this year.  I responded that I hadn’t really had time to research W-2 attacks yet, but a reader, “DLOW,”  has now kindly submitted a news story by Mary Richards of KSL in Utah. The kinds of tax documents involved in this incident do not contain full Social Security numbers like W-2 forms do, but it’s still a tax document incident:

Forty-two thousand students at Salt Lake Community College are learning that their tax documents got lost.

An email sent to students and obtained by KSL Newsradio explained that a memory drive with tax documents for the students somehow fell out of an envelope on its way from a contracted company to the college.

SLCC spokesman Joy Tlou said that when the college processes these documents that deal with the 1098-T tax form used for getting educational tax credits, the college goes through a third-party vendor and uses a secured cloud server to access the information. That information is then also backed up on a memory drive and sent to the college.

Read more on KSL and see the FAQ on the incident.

Feb 072019

Rachel Polansky reports:

Trash scattered on the side of a major road in Lehigh Acres turns out to be information that could have ruined a woman’s life.

The NBC2 Investigators went to check out the situation after your tips came into the newsroom.

The tip came in as trash scattered on the side of the road near the busy intersection of State Road 82 and Sunshine Boulevard. There were account numbers, routing numbers, emails, and medical reports all over the road.

Read more on NBC-2.  And no, they haven’t figured out how this happened.  Yet.

Do you recycle your papers with personal info or do you actually shred them first?

Dec 302018

Robert Sutcliffe reports:

The Information Commissioner is investigating after a cache of confidential police information was discovered by a member of the public in Holmfirth.

West Yorkshire Police say they are also looking into the circumstances of how around 50 items were found flapping around on the morning of Saturday, December 22.


“I began picking them up and found they were confidential documents from the police – witness statements, restraining orders, prison release documents with names, addresses and dates of birth, car registration details clearly obvious.

Read more on ExaminerLive.

Dec 202018

There’s a follow-up to a 2015 breach that was previously reported on this blog.  Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey made the announcement yesterday:

BOSTON — McLean Hospital Corporation will implement new security and training programs and pay a total of $75,000 to resolve claims that it exposed the personal and health information of more than 1,500 people, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. 

According to the AG’s complaint, filed today along with a consent judgment in Suffolk Superior Court, McLean lost four unencrypted backup computer tapes containing personal and health information of patients, employees and deceased donors of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center. The AG’s Office alleges McLean violated the Consumer Protection Law, the Massachusetts Data Security Law, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act when it failed to properly protect patients’ personal and health information.

“Hospitals must take measures to protect the private information of their patients,” said AG Healey. “This settlement requires McLean Hospital to implement a new information security program and train its staff on how to properly handle the private information of those they serve.” 
The AG’s complaint alleges that McLean, a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, allowed an employee to regularly take home eight unencrypted back-up tapes containing clinical and demographic information from the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center that the hospital possessed. The tapes contained personal information such as names, social security numbers, diagnoses and family histories. When the employee was terminated from her position at McLean in May 2015, she only returned four of the tapes, and the hospital was unable to recover the others. 
The complaint also alleges several failures by McLean to identify, assess, and plan for security risks, including failing to properly train employees, report the loss of the tapes in a timely manner, and encrypt portable devices containing personal information. 

As part of the settlement, McLean has agreed to implement and maintain a written information security program, provide mandatory training to new employees and existing employees on security of personal and health information, encrypt within 60 days all electronic personal and health information within its owned and issued portable devices, and to create and maintain an inventory of these devices.   

McLean has also agreed to a third-party audit of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center’s use and handling of portable devices containing personal and health information, and to report to the AG’s Office the results of this audit and any corrective actions the hospital will take. 
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael Wong and Legal Analyst Elizabeth Carnes Flynn of the AG’s Health Care Division.

Read more on Boston25. As noted above, this incident was noted on this blog in 2015 when McClean first disclosed it. But when I check HHS’s public breach tool now, I cannot see where HHS/OCR ever did anything on this one. There is no web description associated with a McLean incident reported to them in July 2015. That was reported to them as affecting 12,673 patients and could well be the same incident. But why is there no note on any investigation or steps the entity took? The incident is in the Archive section of the breach tool.