How is this type of breach still happening in the Veterans Administration system?
I thought the Veterans Administration system had taken steps to ensure that people could not forward/send emails with protected health information outside the system. Yet an incident in Texas that was included in the VA’s July report to Congress shows that this still occurs.
The VA’s summary of the incident for July 23rd notes:
As part of an ongoing investigation of a VA employee, an allegation has been made that this employee used his VA Outlook account to send sensitive information outside the VA. The Privacy Officer (PO) has been asked to investigate and make a determination whether any privacy and or security rules have been violated.
On July 24, the Privacy Officer confirmed that the physician sent emails containing Veteran’s individually identifiable information and protected health information outside the VA to his personal Yahoo email account and another email account that had not yet been identified. According to the PO’s investigation:
Twenty Six Veterans’ full name and SSN were disclosed. Another 391 Veterans had their names and other information (not including the full SSN or date of birth) disclosed in the emails.
July 26th, they note:
It is unknown if he forwarded the emails from the Yahoo account to any one or downloaded them to a private computer.
The 26 veterans whose SSN were disclosed were offered credit monitoring. The other 391 were just notified of the incident. As to the physician, all they note is that:
Findings letter sent to labor management specialist for appropriate disciplinary action.
So I ask again: how is this still happening? If hospitals can block emails with PHI from being sent to nonauthorized email addresses unless they are for legitimate purposes, why hasn’t the VA deployed an effective blocking system by now? Is it unreasonable or naive to expect them to have dealt with this by now?