HHS reveals three more breaches

HHS/OCR’s web site reveals three more breaches that were never reported in mainstream media:

The Long Island Consultation Center in New York is a private mental health clinic providing outpatient psychiatric services. According to an alert on their web site:

On May 24, a computer device was reported missing from a secured area at LICC. The device contained certain doctor’s reports, which included the names, dates of birth and diagnostic information of LICC patients. Information regarding your treatment at LICC may have been included on the device. We have changed LICC policy regarding storage of such electronic information in an effort to prevent such an incident from occurring again.

In their report to HHS, LICC reported that 800 patients had data on the portable device.

NYU Langone Medical Center’s Hospital for Joint Diseases also reported the loss of a portable electronic device to HHS. The loss reportedly occurred on May 8 and affected 2,563 patients. In a notification on their web site dated July 1, the hospital writes:

NYU Langone Medical Center’s Hospital for Joint Diseases notified patients today that an unencrypted portable USB drive used to store patient information in one of its recovery rooms was lost between May 7, 2010, when the drive was last used, and May12, 2010 when it was discovered to be missing. No financial information, social security numbers, or home addresses were on the drive and therefore are not at risk. Additionally, at this time there is no indication that patient information stored on the missing drive has been adversely used or disclosed.

The USB drive contained recovery room clinical information on approximately 2,500 patients including patient name, medical record number, age, sex, procedure, attending physician, anesthesiologist, type of anesthesia, time of arrival in the recovery room, and time of discharge from the recovery room.

Once discovered, the loss was immediately reported to the NYU Langone Medical Center Office of Security and an active investigation is underway to find the missing USB drive. Letters were sent to all patients whose data may be included on the drive. NYU Langone Medical Center’s Hospital for Joint Diseases has established a dedicated phone line for patients in the hospital’s Office of Compliance at 1-877-698-2333, Monday-Friday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

NYU Langone Medical Center has strict policies in place to safeguard patient data, including technical and operational controls for USB drives (including encryption) which will render the USB drive unreadable to unauthorized parties. In response to this event, Medical Center faculty and staff will continue to receive periodic mandatory security training and security reminders regarding the proper safeguarding of private patient information.

The E. Brooks Wilkins Family Medicine practice in North Carolina also reported a breach to HHS. According to HHS’s web site, the breach involved theft and unauthorized access of a desktop computer, and affected 13,000 patients. Although the breach reportedly occurred on February 1, it was first reported to HHS on July 19. There does not seem to be any notice on the practice’s web site at the time of this posting.

It seems that even though OCR’s site doesn’t provide us with a lot of details, just knowing that an entity has had to report often enables me to find a notice on the web that I otherwise would not have found or even known to look for.

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