Healthcare Information Security

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Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta suffers internal data breach

By Patrick Ouellette

- After former Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta employee Sharon McCray stole both sensitive patient and organizational data, it fired her and filed a lawsuit against McCray on October 22. A Northern Georgia district court granted Children’s motion for a temporary restraining order and ordered that McCray stop using and transmitting the data she stole from Children’s. The hearing on the motion will take place today, October 31, at the district court at 2 p.m.

McCray, who was a corporate audit advisor for Children’s, pilfered children’s patient health information, DEA numbers, numbers assigned to health care providers by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, more than 500 health care providers’ license numbers, financial information and internal and external audits.  The Atlanta Business Journal reports that McCray began emailing the stolen data from her work email account to her home account on October 16, the day she resigned. Children’s cut off her email access on October 21 and placed her on administrative leave after she admitted to stealing the information for the purposes of reference for future employment.

McCray has yet to return the information to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta or prove she’s destroyed it, which is why it asked a federal judge to force McCray to turn over the information. Children’s hasn’t revealed how many patients were affected by the breach, but a great volume of data runs through the organization, as last year it had more than 346,000 patients and almost 848,000 patient visits, including children from all 159 counties of Georgia. “The patient health information and DEA Numbers, in particular, are among the most sensitive and confidential information currently possessed by Children’s,” the hospital said in the statement.


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