Healthcare Information Security

Latest Health Data Breaches News

VA motions for patient data breach case dismissal

By Patrick Ouellette

- After William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA medical center alerted 7,405 patients in early April that an unprotected laptop with their personal information on the device had been stolen in February, the affected patients sued the organization. Now the VA motioned to dismiss the case on July 16 on grounds that there has been a failure to prove that the records were improperly disclosed, saying that the plaintiffs never argued that the data was shown to another person.

The government argues since there’s no proof that an unauthorized person saw the records, the breach shouldn’t be considered improper disclosure under the Privacy Act. Moreover, according to mainjustice.com, the VA says that the plaintiffs’ argument that they’re at risk for future damages because of the potential for identity loss is invalid because fear of future harm wouldn’t hold up in court. This certainly isn’t the last we’ll hear of this high-publicity data breach.

Samaritan Health Services leaves patient records in trash

A healthcare organization is in the process of investigating a patient privacy breach after physical medical records were found in a dumpster. If the plot sounds familiar, well, it should because this is becoming a bit of a trend. Samaritan Health Services of Corvallis, Ore. is looking into a stack of medical documents that were supposed to be shredded being found in a trash can behind some of its medical offices.

The documents came from the Samaritan Family Medicine Resident Clinic and, according to the Corvallis Gazette-Times, Janet Wood found hundreds of records at the top of a trash can when she was throwing a tissue away. Though she didn’t look too much into what was included in the records, she said she found pregnancy and diagnosis results as well as prescription information.

“Our staff is regularly trained on our practices to protect patient information,” Samaritan spokeswoman Janelle Iverson said Friday to the Gazette-Times. “There are multiple protocols in place for confidential information, and that’s really all I can say because it’s currently under investigation.”

Wood said that a Samaritan Health Services employee contacted her and said the organization thinks that a cleaning person mistakenly put the records in the trash.

Marshall Obstetrics & Gynecology faces HIPAA suit

Savannah Murphy is suing Marshall Obstetrics & Gynecology for alleged HIPAA violations related to her divorce in 2012. The West Virginia Record reports that Murphy believes defendant Jane Doe, who worked for Marshall and was a friend of the ex-husband, provided her ex-husband with protected health information (PHI) about her pregnancy after two physicians gave it to her.

Murphy’s suit claims that her patient privacy has been breached and, according to the Record, is seeking damages against the defendants for negligently disseminating her PHI. She is being represented by Robert B. Kuenzel and Eric R. Bias of Kuenzel & Associates PLLC.

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