More breaches revealed on OCR’s site

In addition to the breaches that we already know about from the media, I periodically scan OCR’s list of reported breaches to see what we didn’t know about. Here are two other breaches that I posted to, but that also belong here because they involve SSN and not just healthcare information:

Pediatric Sports and Spine Associates
State: Texas
Approx. # of Individuals Affected: 955
Date of Breach: 2/10/10
Type of Breach: Theft
Location of Breached Information: Laptop

A notice created April 6 and linked from the home page of their website reads, in part:

On February 10, 2010, a laptop computer used by Pediatric Sports and Spine Associates was stolen from one of our employees. This laptop computer may have contained some patient information, including name, address, phone number, date of birth, and social security number, as well as limited information about patient treatment or medication. If you are a patient of our practice for whom we have a valid address and your information was potentially contained on the stolen computer, you will be receiving a letter from us to explain how to best protect yourself, if necessary. If you do not receive a letter by April 15, you are likely not affected.

Authorities have told us that laptops are typically stolen to be sold rather than for the information on them. Because this theft occurred away from our office, we believe it is very unlikely this information will be used by anyone.

Please be assured we take this incident very seriously and are investigating thoroughly. We are taking steps to help prevent similar incidents in the future such as educating our staff on laptop security.

Thank you for your trust in the care we provide at Pediatric Sports and Spine Associates. We apologize for any inconvenience, and we invite you to call us with any questions or concerns.

Another incident reported on OCR’s web site that we didn’t know about previously:

General Agencies Welfare Benefits Program
State: Tennessee
Business Associate Involved: Towers Watson
Approx. # of Individuals Affected: 1,874
Date of Breach: 2/05/10
Type of Breach: Loss
Location of Breached Information: Other

On April 27, the General Council on Finance and Administration, which administers the program, issued a statement on its site that says, in part:

The incident relates to benefits consulting services provided by Towers Watson to The General Agencies Welfare Benefits Program (“program”) administered by GCFA. Two DVDs sent the first week of February 2010, between two Towers Watson office locations, were lost in transit. Towers Watson notified GCFA of this incident on February 25, 2010.

The DVDs contained personal data and health insurance plan information regarding certain general agency and other employees, former employees, and their family members covered by the program. GCFA provided this information to Towers Watson in 2001. The information included first and last names, health insurance plan numbers and/or the social security numbers of the covered employees. The social security numbers of family members/dependents of covered employees were not disclosed in this incident.

It seems clear from the description that this is the same Towers Watson breach reported on as affecting employees of Lorillard Tobacco.

It also seems clear to this blogger that HITECH’s new provisions are having an impact as even though many breaches do not make it to mainstream media, we can find out a bit about them from OCR’s web site and then try to track down notices on the entity’s web site, as in the two cases above.

Also noted on OCR’s site:

Oddly, a breach report that was originally listed on OCR’s site from the University of Texas Medical Branch is no longer listed. I’ve written to HHS to ask them why.

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