Karmanos Cancer Center discloses lost flash drive contained patient info

It’s 2016. Why are people still mailing unencrypted flash drives with protected health information? This should be an automatic monetary penalty from OCR. It’s not, but it should be by now. 

Fox47 in Detroit reports that the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center is notifying 2,808 patients and family members after they lost an unencrypted flash drive that contained patient information.

Karmanos says officials have “no knowledge or evidence of fraudulent or criminal activity” related to the missing flash drive, and believe there is “minimal” risk.

Right. Because no one ever, anywhere, might find a flash drive and plug it in to see what’s on it? They shouldn’t, of course, because it risks compromising their system, but how many people actually resist the temptation or curiosity?

According to Karmanos, the flash drive contained only administrative information related to a system upgrade. It was mailed to the center, but when the package arrived, the flash drive was missing. It contained the names of patients, hospital name, Karmanos unique patient numbers and attending physician names.

Which means that you’ve just disclosed that a named patient was seen at a cancer hospital. I wouldn’t consider that “only administrative information,” would you? And what good does identity theft protection do when there’s a greater issue of revealing or suggesting that someone has cancer if they didn’t want it known?

Read more on Fox47. It doesn’t say who mailed the drive to them, or whether it was a violation of policy to mail it unencrypted.

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