Mass. Eye and Ear Alerts Patients to Data Breach

On Nov. 30, 2009 the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary discovered that a patient’s credit card had been inappropriately used on Nov. 11 and 12 by a Mass. Eye and Ear employee. Mass. Eye and Ear conducted an investigation and determined that two employees were involved, both of whom were terminated. We reported this situation to the Boston Police Department. In addition, as required by law, Mass. Eye and Ear is reporting this incident to the appropriate state and federal authorities.

While Mass. Eye and Ear is only aware of one credit card that was actually misused, Mass. Eye and Ear has determined that approximately 1,076 individuals used credit cards that may have been physically handled or taken over the telephone by the two employees.

Mass. Eye and Ear is sending letters to potentially affected patients at their last known address. The hospital has posted a notice on its website in the event that the contact information for potentially affected patients is out of date, and to provide notice to approximately 35 individuals for whom Mass. Eye and Ear has no contact information. In addition, individuals who used their credit cards to pay for services provided to friends or family members who are patients also may have been potentially affected.

Only individuals who paid for services using credit cards in the departments and between the dates outlined below have been determined to be potentially affected by this incident at this time.

Potentially Affected Individuals
Only individuals who paid for services using credit cards in the departments and between the dates outlined below have been determined to be potentially affected by this incident at this time.

Vision Rehabilitation: March 20, 2006 – December 1, 2009
Head and Neck Surgical Oncology Service: July 14, 2008 – November 20, 2009
Laryngology Service: July 14, 2008 – November 20, 2009

Mass. Eye and Ear will provide one year of free credit monitoring and additional information to potentially affected individuals to protect them against possible harm resulting from this incident. Any individual who used a credit card as noted above, and who wishes to determine if they were potentially affected by this incident, may call 877-676-0383 to learn if they were potentially affected.

As part of its normal employment process, Mass. Eye and Ear performs appropriate background checks on employees to protect against this type of incident.

“We are saddened and disappointed that two of our, now former, employees chose to violate our trust in them,” said John Fernandez, president and CEO. “Mass. Eye and Ear apologizes to our patients and their friends and family members for any concern or inconvenience that this incident may cause.”

Source: Newswise press release. A copy of the release is posted on the hospital’s site, linked from the home page.

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