Essentia

Marketing firm acquires patient names and address

July 28th, 2014

In an unprecedented event, Essentia Health of Fargo, North Dakota, has suffered data breach due to educational event. A marketing firm was able to access 430 patient names and addresses without their consent. Incident occurred when someone from the Essentia gave portable device containing patient data to the firm, Get Marketing. Essentia chief compliance and privacy officer Vicki Clevenger maintained that no patient medical data had been compromised.

“We have also taken the appropriate actions according to our policies and have provided additional education to the staff members involved to prevent future occurrences,” Clevenger said to inforum.com. “There was no additional information shared, including no medical and clinical information,” Clevenger added.

When Essentia was sending patients information to a free educational event that offered new procedures for those dealing with lower back pain, the breach occurred. In all 70 patients attended the event, but Essentia did recognize that a breach had occurred when the event was being promoted. Jodine Wien, a Moorhead patient, complained to Essentia when she found that her name and address had been given to Get Marketing that was involved in sending out the invitations.

“I’m a little angry at Essentia,” Wien said Monday, adding that she was displeased with the health provider’s initial responses to her complaint. “I was treated completely rudely and nobody wanted to say anything.”

Essentia determined that patients’ names and mailing addresses were “erroneously” released to Get Marketing, which was “engaged and paid by a medical device manufacturer, not Essentia Health,” Clevenger wrote Wien.

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