NC: Stolen Blue Ridge Surgery Center laptop was encrypted, but password was with it

Blue Ridge Surgery Center, an affiliate of Surgical Care Affiliates, has posted a breach notification to patients:

Blue Ridge Surgery Center (BRSC), is committed to protecting the confidentiality of our patients’ information. Regrettably, this notice is regarding an incident that may have involved some of that information.

On March 17, 2016, BRSC learned that an employee’s encrypted work laptop had been stolen during a break-in at the employee’s residence that same day. The employee reported the theft to law enforcement and we immediately began our own investigation. Our investigation determined that the password was with the laptop at the time of the theft, and the laptop contained email files that may have included patients’ names, addresses, treatment information and health insurers’ names, identification numbers and in some instances, Social Security numbers.

This incident did not affect all BRSC patients. We have no knowledge that the information has been used in any way. However, in an abundance of caution, we began mailing letters to affected patients on May 16, 2016, and have established a dedicated call center to answer any questions they may have. If you believe you are affected but do not receive a letter by May 31, 2016, please call 1-844-855-8574, Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. We also recommend that affected patients regularly review the statements they receive from their health insurer. If there are charges for services that the patient did not receive, please contact the insurer immediately.

We deeply regret any inconvenience this may cause our patients. To help prevent something like this from happening in the future, we have re-enforced training with all of our employees regarding securing passwords.

The incident is not yet up on HHS’s public breach tool and the total number affected has not yet been disclosed.

But how frustrating – to remember to deploy encryption and then to leave the password with the device. Of course, we don’t know if the level of encryption was sufficient to offer any safe harbor under state laws or HITECH (and a risk assessment would still need to be conducted), but yeah, re-train employees regularly….


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