FL: Palm Beach County Health Department employee pilfered patient information

Ed Komenda reports:

With a few key strokes and clicks of a mouse, an employee with the Palm Beach County Health Department accessed everything.

The employee used a computer to view all manner of patient records. Names, prescriptions, social security numbers: nothing new to someone who had walked through the department’s halls for years.

But on Friday, that employee was fired after authorities determined he or she created a list of the names and social security numbers of at least 86 patients before trying to mail the data to use in any number of ID scams.

Read more on SunSentinel. Although they nipped this one in time to prevent the data being mailed, there were reportedly previous incidents where other data was misused.

A statement posted today on the department’s web site says:

The Palm Beach County Health Department is issuing a public notice that some patients of its Health Centers may have had confidential information contained in their records disclosed to an unauthorized source. The breach occurred when an employee created a client list containing names and social security numbers from patients at the Clinics and attempted to mail the list. Law enforcement confiscated the list containing 86 names in May and advised they were likely being used for fraudulent activity.

The confiscated document contained only names and social security numbers. Medical information, bank account, credit card or other personal information was not included. Further investigation by law enforcement has revealed additional names have now been used for fraudulent activity that had been Health Department patients.

“We are taking every precaution possible and cooperating with law enforcement to assure all records are maintained with the utmost of security,” said Health Department Director Alina Alonso, M.D. Dr. Alonso added, persons who have been a patient in one of the Health Department Health Centers and identified on the lists have been notified by mail.

However, the Health Department has not been able to contact all identified from lists and is issuing this public notice. Persons who have been a patient in one of the health centers should review their credit history for any fraudulent or suspicious activities they have not authorized. A free report can be obtained at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you have had fraudulent activity contact the Palm Beach County Sheriff Office. The health department can answer general questions at 561-671-4014.

The employee has been permanently removed from access to any and all health department information.

The security of patient information is of critical importance to the department. The State of Florida, the Florida Department of Health, and Palm Beach County Health Department is fully committed to safeguarding all confidential information.

So if the list was intercepted in May, why is the public notice first appearing in August?

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