Follow-up: Wayne Memorial Hospital Incident

Wayne Memorial Hospital has updated its breach disclosure, reported previously on this site as involving unauthorized insider access to 360 patients’ records.

On March 1, the hospital updated the situation:

One month after the termination of an employee for a patient privacy breach, Wayne Memorial Hospital continues to have no information that the accessed information was used for any malicious purposes or was inappropriately used or disclosed. The hospital has also contracted with an independent monitoring agency to help assure the safety of its electronic patient medical records.

The hospital sent a strong message to its employees and the community on January 29th when officials announced a nurse’s aide had been fired for accessing patient records without authorization. The incident was reported to local police, who are investigating.

Wayne Memorial CEO David Hoff confirmed letters were sent to 390 individuals informing them their medical records may have been exposed, and some of those records may have included Social Security numbers, diagnoses and insurance information. All those whose Social Security numbers may have been exposed were offered a free one-year membership in a credit monitoring service.

Hospital officials say the unauthorized access was discovered on December 8, 2015, when another employee called with a privacy concern. Wayne Memorial immediately launched a forensic review of files accessed by the nurse’s aide, interviewed the aide and subsequently fired the aide. The investigation also revealed that beginning in September 2012 the aide, whose name is not being released, began sporadically looking at patient lists that contained primarily non-diagnostic clinical information such as name, medical record number, provider and reason for visit. Beginning on or around March 16, 2015, the nurse’s aide began accessing records that may have included Social Security numbers.

In the wake of the incident, Wayne Memorial has signed a contract with an independent data monitoring service, Fair Warning, which offers continuous monitoring of electronic heath records with an emphasis on inappropriate access and suspicious activity.

“We take our patients privacy very seriously,” said Hoff, “and we will use all our resources, including the latest in technology to help assure our patients that their records are safe.” He added the hospital is also strengthening and expanding its training for employees in HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), the federal law that governs patient privacy.

At the same time, Hoff urged everyone to be vigilant about their personal information by regularly monitoring their own bank statements, credit card statements, insurance statements and Explanation of Benefits medical statements. Wayne Memorial Hospital indicated that any unauthorized activities should be reported immediately to the appropriate authorities, including Wayne Memorial Hospital.

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