Lawrenceville Internal Medicine Associates notifies patients of email gaffe that exposed patient email addresses

Sometimes, reports submitted to HHS do not show up on their breach tool for a few weeks.  A breach report submitted January 2 by Lawrenceville Internal Medicine Associates of NJ caught my eye today. The incident, coded as unauthorized access/disclosure of protected health information in email, reportedly impacted 8,031 patients.
The following is a notice I found on the entity’s site. Note that the incident may have also impacted patients of Endocrinology Associates of Princeton, LLC:
As a valued patient of Endocrinology Associates of Princeton, LLC and Lawrenceville Internal Medicine Assoc, LLC (collectively, the “Practice”), we are writing to make you aware of a data security incident involving your email address that came to our attention on October 31, 2019. Although we have no reason to believe that your email address or any other personal information has been accessed or misused in any way, we are writing to make you aware of the incident so that you may take any necessary precautions.

To communicate certain administrative changes concerning the Practice and its operations, the Practice sent a standardized announcement email to patients on October 29, 2019. On October 31, 2019, the Practice determined that other patient email addresses may have been visible in the “BCC:” line when a patient opened the announcement email from the Practice.
 
It is important to note that the email delivered by the Practice did not include any medical information, home address, date of birth, social security numbers, or debit or credit card information about you; only patient email addresses may have been visible to other patients in the BCC line. There was no incident of hacking, loss of patient data or theft at the Practice related to this matter.
 
The Practice takes the protection of your personal and medical information very seriously. We regularly review our systems and privacy and security practices to enhance those protections. In response to this incident, the Practice has taken steps to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents. The Practice provided supplemental privacy and security training for IT staff, utilizes a different system to circulate email communications to patients and also strengthened security policies and procedures relating to email communications.
 
We sincerely regret any inconvenience or concern caused by this incident. Although we are not aware that your email address or personal information has been compromised and the risk of potential exposure is low, we want to make you aware of resources you may access to help safeguard your personal information. We have included additional information on identity protection and fraud prevention following the signature line of this letter.
 
If you have questions or concerns about this incident, please contact 1-609-896-0075, Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, or [email protected]

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