Emory Healthcare posts statement about breach on its web site

A statement was posted today on Emory’s web site about a breach first reported yesterday:

Emory Healthcare recently received notification from external law enforcement agents that 77 of our orthopaedics patients may have been victims of identity theft in May 2008 or January 2009. Please be assured that this was not a breach into the Emory Healthcare electronic medical record. The information stolen included:

  • Name
  • Social Security Number
  • For some patients, address, date of birth, clinic number and health insurance company

According to law enforcement, the information appears to have been used for filing fraudulent federal tax returns with the intent of collecting associated tax refunds. Emory Healthcare is fully cooperating with the IRS and other federal authorities as they conduct a thorough investigation into this manner. We want to ensure our patients, staff and community that their electronic medical information is maintained to the highest security standard and this theft was not a breach into the electronic medical record at Emory Healthcare.

Who Was Impacted

  • Patients who were seen in Orthopaedics
  • Patients who visited the Orthopaedics & Spine Center for physical therapy ONLY were NOT affected
  • Patients who were seen ONLY in the Spine Center and not Orthopaedics or Sports Medicine were NOT affected
  • New patients as of July 2009 were NOT affected

Note: Emory Healthcare sent letters to all patients who may have been impacted. If you are a patient and have not received a letter, then you are not impacted. Patients who received letters were provided information on how to place a fraud alert on their credit reports and several ways to help protect against identity theft. They are also receiving identify theft protection services paid for by Emory Healthcare. For further information, please call 404-727-7777 and select option 6.

Emory Healthcare is deeply committed to the protection of all personal and medical information entrusted to us. We sincerely regret that our patients’ private information was compromised.

The fact that the hospital is not sure whether the breach occurred in May 2008 or January 2009 strikes me as significant. Was there one incident or two? And how were the data stolen? It seems that there’s much that Emory has yet to sort out. And of course, there’s the issue of whether they ever would have detected the breach(es) if IRS had not contacted them.

A search of this blog’s records and PogoWasRight.org’s archives indicates no breaches that were reported in the media for Emory in May 2008 or January 2009. Similarly, DataLossDB.org does not show any reported incidents during those periods.

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