Yesterday, when indictments were announced in an ID theft case involving a former employee of Johns Hopkins Hospital, I contacted the hospital to ask whether this was an incident that we had previous knowledge about in the media or blogosphere or if it was news to us. A spokesperson for the hospital just emailed me the following statement:
A federal grand jury has indicted five persons – one of them a former Johns Hopkins Health System employee — on fraud and aggravated identify theft charge in connection with a scheme to use stolen hospital patient indentify information to open fraudulent credit accounts and make purchases at retail stores in Maryland.
Jasmine Amber Smith, named in the indictment, was employed by the Johns Hopkins Health System from August 2007 to March 2009.
At the time of discovery of this event in April 2009, we contacted the victims of this theft and all others who were potentially at risk.
Johns Hopkins is acutely aware that identity theft is a growing problem. Nothing is more important than the safety and privacy of our patients and we are committed to not only assisting those who may have a problem, but also doing whatever we can to prevent future incidents. Hopkins fully cooperated with all relevant agencies during the course of this investigation.
It is, and has been for years, Johns Hopkins’ standard procedure to conduct criminal background checks on all employees of The Hospital and such background check was done in the case of Jasmine Smith. Employees also are trained on the importance of patient confidentiality, both generally and in their system training, and are asked to sign confidentiality agreements. Unfortunately, while Johns Hopkins is continuously reviews to see what additional precautions could be built into the patient registration system, there is little way to stop an employee – at Johns Hopkins or anywhere else — who deliberately chooses to break the law.
In accordance with our longstanding policy, we will not discuss details of this ongoing case.
So it seems that this relates to the breach previously reported in this April 2009 notification.