Texas Health & Human Services Commission notifies 600 after contractor can’t locate 600 records

The Texas Health & Human Services Commission posted this notification to their site on June 17:

The Health and Human Services Commission is notifying people about the accidental loss of protected health information. The breach may affect a little more than 600 people who applied for benefits.

Iron Mountain, an HHSC contractor, was storing boxes containing client files that were slated for destruction. Iron Mountain notified the agency that it lost 15 boxes of HHSC’s files from their Irving, Fort Worth and Dallas facilities.

The lost boxes contained confidential information from clients who may have applied for medical assistance from Jan. 1, 2008 to Aug. 31, 2009. The information may have included social security numbers, social security claim numbers, dates of birth, addresses, names, medical record numbers, Medicaid/Individual numbers, case numbers and bank account numbers.

If you believe your case information has been affected by this breach by Iron Mountain, you may request free one-year credit monitoring services. If you are interested in this service, please call 2-1-1 and press option two or 1-877-541-7905 toll-free and also select option two. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, you can call 7-1-1 or 1-800-735-2989. If you believe your information has been misused, file a report with your local police, sheriff or both.

HHSC is committed to ensuring that our clients’ confidential information is secure. The agency is conducting an investigation into Iron Mountain’s handling of this event and taking steps to secure confidential information and reduce the chances of this event happening again. After the investigation is complete, HHSC will review processes and procedures, making any changes needed to prevent this type of event in the future.

15 boxes lost from three facilities? Yes, I’d say that calls for a review of Iron Mountain’s handling of the Commission’s records.

And do note that if you look at this incident on HHS’s public breach tool, it will indicate that no business associate was present. There are many errors like that on the breach tool, and I suspect – based on what a covered entity told me – that the way HHS instructions are worded, covered entities are getting confused as to how to indicate that a business associate was responsible for the incident that the CE is reporting.

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