On May 5, 2021, Benson Health in North Carolina (formerly known as Benson Area Medical Center) discovered that it was the target of a cyberattack. According to their notification dated July 7, 2022, they immediately launched an investigation, engaged a law firm specializing in cybersecurity and data privacy, and engaged third-party forensic specialists to assist.
“That investigation identified a data set that may have been accessed by the unauthorized person,” they write, so they then “retained data mining experts to perform an extensive and comprehensive review of the data set and identify individuals whose personal information was in that data set.”
They did not say when the data set was first identified or when they first retained data mining experts, but the latter’s investigation reportedly concluded on June 7, 2022.
So more than one year after detecting an attack, Benson Health first learned who had protected health information possibly accessed?
DataBreaches was alerted to this breach notification by a reader, “Soap,” who commented that it “kind of really sucks to wait a year and two months to notify patients whose Social Security number and health information may have been accessed.”
And wait for it, because here it comes:
At this time, Benson Health does not have any evidence to indicate that any of your personal information has been or will be misused as a result of this incident. Nevertheless, Benson Health decided to notify you of this incident out of an abundance of caution.
Was notification required by HIPAA, HITECH, or any state law(s)?
And if a purpose of notification is so that patients can take steps to protect themselves, then a gap to notification from detection of more than one year is not really acceptable or an “abundance of caution,” is it?
The concerns raised here are not specific to Benson Health. DataBreaches has been raising these issues for years and will continue to publicly urge HHS to enforce the regulations on timeframe to notify HHS and those affected or to seek their amendment if the regulations are unrealistic and are not going to be enforced.