PinnacleHealth notifies patients that a medical transcription service breach exposing patient records went undetected for two years
Another breach involving a transcription service. This time, it’s PinnacleHealth System in Pennsylvania, who recently reported an incident to HHS involving Gair Medical Transcription Services.
On December 17, PinnacleHealth issued a press release that indicates that the breach may have occurred back in 2008, but was only detected when someone searching for something online stumbled across the data and contacted PinnacleHealth.
Earlier this week PinnacleHealth sent notification to 1,086 outpatients whose personal medical information may have been accessed through an independent medical transcription company. PinnacleHealth explained that a company that provided the system with medical transcription services had a data security incident involving its computer server. The incident occurred in 2008 when the company’s server was inadvertently opened to access through the internet. PinnacleHealth immediately began an investigation and hired an outside computer investigating firm.
Not all medical services were affected. PinnacleHealth’s internal medical record infrastructure remains intact and was in no way affected by this breach at a contracted service.
The patients whose information may have been accessed have been enrolled in credit monitoring services with identity theft protection. PinnacleHealth assumed the cost of this service.
PinnacleHealth first learned of the incident in mid-August, when a person reported seeing patient information on the internet. The system hired an outside computer investigating firm and began an investigation.
The information in the dictated reports included social security numbers, dates of birth, dates of interviews or examinations, medications, and the dates that the reports were dictated. The investigation determined that some reports were accessed, but the investigator was unable to ascertain if the users were authorized to do so.
PinnacleHealth had this information removed from Internet search engines. The transcription company shut down its server and removed all PinnacleHealth files from the server.
PinnacleHealth has set up a hotline number – 1- 877- 825- 4485 for notified patients who may have questions. The system is working with other health care providers whose medical records were also handled by this same transcription service. The Federal agency responsible for overseeing the privacy of patient medical records is aware of the issue and is being kept apprised.
PinnacleHealth sincerely regrets this unfortunate incident and pledges its continued commitment to keeping our patients’ health care information confidential and secure.