(UPDATE 2 ): MO: Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center notifying patients after tornado hits secure records service provider
I read relatively few reports of breaches due to weather-related events, floods, or fires, but when I do see them, I try to post them. This one involves a business associate that provides secure records services. A tornado struck their building in Tennessee on March 3. The disaster impacted patients in Missouri. As Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center explains in the notice on their website:
This notice provides information regarding a potential inappropriate disclosure of personal information due to a tornado that struck a building leased by STAT Informatics Solutions, LLC (“STAT”) in Lebanon, Tennessee on March 3, 2020. STAT is based in Waupaca, Wisconsin and provides various secure record services to healthcare entities. Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center contracts with STAT to scan paper documents into the hospital’s electronic medical record system and for secure destruction of records.
Regrettably, the records stored in the building damaged by the tornado contained medical records, which may have included personal information such as a patient’s full name, social security number, address, date of birth, medical record number, account number, images, diagnoses, nursing and physician documentation, test results, medications, and/or other types of information typically found in a medical record. As a result of the tornado, personal information may have been potentially exposed to others.
STAT immediately notified Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center on March 3, 2020 of this incident. Hospital representatives visited the site right away and began working with STAT in the aftermath of the tornado to locate medical records, and to secure the remaining records on the site.
Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center was able to confirm the majority of records remained in the remnants of the building. In an effort to prevent unauthorized access and disclosure of records involved, a tall fence was erected around the property and two security guards were posted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The contents of the building remained secure while the recovery of records was assessed. All records that remained in the building were deemed unsalvageable and the records were securely destroyed.
At this time, Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center has no evidence the information has been or will be used in a way that would cause financial harm. A letter will be mailed to individuals whose information may have been involved in the breach with information about how to enroll in credit monitoring services provided free of charge to potentially affected individuals.
We sincerely apologize for this incident and regret any inconvenience it may cause. Should you have questions or concerns regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us at (855) 465-5157. For information on preventing identity theft or to report suspicious activity, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1(877) 438-4338 or get free information at www.ftc.gov.
Update 1: Bayfront Health Port Charlotte and Bayfront Health Punta Gorda in Florida have issued comparable statements to their patients about this incident. This incident is not on HHS’s breach tool as yet.
Update 2: Community Health Systems, which owns and Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania who were also affected by the incident. According to a media report, less than 2500 patients at both hospitals were impacted.