Data breach at Kaiser Foundation Hospital

November 25th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

There is not a single week which goes without a healthcare data breach incident, in which a laptop or USB flash drive is stolen. The latest data breach victim in this league is the Kaiser Foundation Hospital Orange County – Anaheim Medical Center, alerting patients that their data had been compromised when a flash drive with their information on it went missing.

The California Attorney General did not reveal the number of patients affected, but Kaiser’s letter were released to patients and explained that patients’ names, medical record numbers, and dates of birth were included on the flash drive, however Social Security numbers were not.

Patients were not even offered the usual year of credit monitoring by Kaiser, which may be considered trite at this point but should be interpreted as a good-faith effort. Instead, it stated that it respects patients’ rights to file a complaint both with Kaiser and with the Office for Civil Rights. For an organization that still isn’t done with its ongoing, extremely-public legal battle with Surefile, it would be reasonable to expect the organization to do more than say it respects patients’ abilities to complain about their privacy being breached.

Moreover, its notification letter has very little transparency. It addition to not knowing how many patients were impacted, Kaiser is not coming up with information such as whether the data was encrypted and whether it was lost or stolen from inside or outside the organization. Kaiser isn’t a “mom and pop” shop that isn’t aware of HIPAA and the degree to which patient data safety is federally-regulated. Even if its Anaheim Medical Center is just part of the organization, in comparison to other breached organizations’ responses, some may argue that Kaiser should be able to make a better effort in notifying patients from both risk mitigation and informational standpoints.

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