GA: Martin Army Community Hospital can’t individually notify 1,000 patients impacted by insider breach that began in 2011

Larry Gierer reports:

All patients who received care through the Martin Army Community Hospital healthcare system are alerted that a possible HIPAA breach occurred at Fort Benning between January 2011 and December 2013.

According to a news release on Sunday, the breach was discovered after the hospital was alerted of undetected criminal activity involving identity theft by an employee in the laboratory shipping section.

The employee was removed from work in January 2014. The release said he went to trial and is serving time for the crime. No other details were released.

As a member of a large tax fraud ring, filing fraudulent tax returns with the IRS through information gained from discarded lab specimen labels, the employee randomly took protected health information and protected identifiable information, such as names, dates of birth and social security numbers. It is unknown how many labels were taken and how much information was used.

Actually, the breach was reported to HHS as affecting 1,000 patients.

The reporting is somewhat conflicting on how the hospital discovered the breach, as in one part, they  say an employee notified the hospital, but later in the report, it says that hospital was notified by law enforcement:

The hospital was notified by law enforcement in January 2014. After an extensive investigation of computers and computer systems, the Criminal Investigation Division did not detect the employee taking information from the electronic health record.

Well, no, not if he was swiping specimen bottles with the info on paper labels.

And once again, in the name of a criminal investigation, patients were apparently not getting notified promptly:

Neither the Department of Justice nor the IRS, which were the primary agencies conducting the investigation, can release the names to U.S. Army officials for proper protected health information breach notification.

The IRS has contacted those affected by fraudulent tax filings.

Read more on Ledger-Inquirer. At the time of this post, I cannot locate a copy of the press release online, so this post may be updated.

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