Cottage Health Notifying 11,000 Patients Whose Records Were Exposed

Tom Bolton reports that Cottage Health, which suffered a HIPAA breach in 2013 due to a vendor error (by InSync) that exposed over 50,000 patients‘ information, has suffered another exposure breach:

Cottage Health’s efforts to protect the confidentiality of hospital patient records suffered a setback earlier this fall when one of its computer servers was found to be exposed to possible outside access.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Cottage Health officials said limited information from as many as 11,000 patients was exposed.

Read more on NoozHawk. To their credit, Cottage Health discovered the problem because they had brought in outside experts to test their infosecurity.


A statement on Cottage Health’s web site reads, in part:

Cottage Health has provided the information below for patients whose protected health information may have been exposed during a recent data security event.Data Disclosure Description

A team of cyber security experts was employed by CH to test data system security. This team recently discovered and shut down a single server that was exposed between October 26 and November 8, 2015. Our investigation revealed that limited information of approximately 11,000 Cottage Health patients was exposed.We are deeply sorry and regret any inconvenience or concern this may cause. We value our patients’ trust and will continue rigorous testing of our systems, using the latest technology to safeguard data. Notification letters were mailed to individuals who were potentially impacted, so that we can provide them with identity theft protection services as a precaution.Data Included

The information involved included names, addresses, social security numbers and limited medical information such as diagnosis and procedure. There is no evidence that driver’s license numbers or financial information was compromised.We have hired a third-party computer forensic company to continue the investigation. At this time we have no indication that information was misused.Identity Protection and Credit Monitoring Services

For the individuals potentially impacted, we are offering identity theft protection services through ID Experts to provide FraudStop™ PHI Edition at no cost.

This latest incident comes while Cottage Health is still grappling with fallout from its earlier breach. Cottage Health was sued over that earlier breach, and settled the litigation for $4.1 million, only to be sued by its insurer, Columbia Casualty. The insurer did not want to cover the costs because Cottage Health allegedly failed to “continuously implement the procedures and risk controls identified” in its insurance application. As Mendes and Mount, LLP report, however:

The Columbia Cottage litigation was recently dismissed without prejudice because the NetProtect360 policy included a mandatory alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provision for disputes between the insured and insurer. The federal judge granted Cottage’s motion to dismiss, holding that CNA had failed to exhaust all non-judicial remedies, including the ADR provision, before filing its declaratory judgment action.

According to HHS’s public breach tool, OCR’s investigation of that breach remains open.


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