FL: Volunteer at Jackson North used smartphone to steal data

Jackson North Medical Center in North Miami Beach is part of the Jackson Health System. It appears they, too, have suffered an insider breach for tax refund fraud purposes. John Dorschner reports that a volunteer at the medical center used a smart phone to take pictures of patient records:

The volunteer’s misdeeds unraveled in a bizarre case that started in January, when Miramar police responded to a report of suspicious activity to find three men sitting in a car in a McDonald’s parking lot for several hours working furiously on laptops, apparently using the restaurant’s free wi-fi to file tax returns, according to court documents.

Carlos Migoya, chief executive of the Jackson Health System, said Friday in a memo to county leaders that his staff had learned of the problem in March, but federal agents asked that the case be given no publicity until they completed an investigation.

For those of you who are privacy officers or in IT security, think for a minute: if this happened in your facility, would your data security controls ever detect or catch this type of thing? If you had a volunteer working in your emergency room without computer access, you might be concerned about theft of face sheets or paper records, or taking pictures of patients that might violate HIPAA, but systematically taking pictures of patient records with a smart phone? Where are smart phones allowed in your facility? And how sure are you that they’re not being used to steal patient data?

This is the first case of this kind that I’ve heard about, although there certainly might be others, and I have to admit, it was a wake-up call for me. The hospital’s statement indicated that investigators had found 1,200 photos of records of 566 patients on his phone.

Read more in the Miami Herald.

On a related note:

Back in September, I challenged an article on Healthcare IT News about the worst states for healthcare sector breaches. At the time, I wrote, in part:

Indeed, if you had simply asked me what state I think is the worst for breaches involving healthcare sector data, I’d have mentioned a state that’s not on her list – Florida.

Why Florida, you ask? Because they have had a number of breaches involving insider theft or copying of data for misuse or fraud. Those breaches are worse than many other breaches that may have higher numbers but did not result in any harm.

After all the breaches I’ve reported out of Florida this week involving insider wrongdoing for tax refund fraud, would you permit me this small “I told you so?”

Federal and state law enforcement have been diligently investigating many cases of tax refund fraud and Medicare fraud in Florida. But as a recent GAO report notes, the IRS really has no idea of how many cases they don’t find out about and there seems to be more that they don’t know than they do know.

So let me raise this deceptively obvious and simple question: what are healthcare facilities in Florida not doing to protect patient information that they can and should be doing? Discuss.

Update: I’ve uploaded some of the court filings on this case to DataLossDB.org (free registration for account required to access).

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