Over a period of three and a half years, 1,071 patients of Des Moines Crisis Observation Center, who received medical services at the operated by Polk County Health Services Inc., have been contacted to advise them that some of their protected health information has been “accidentally and unknowingly disseminated” .
The HIPAA violation was discovered on February 14, 2018, although the investigation showed that information began being disclosed on June 1, 2014 and went on until January 11, 2018. The sort of information accessed includes patients’ identifications along with Social Security details, addresses, Medicaid ID numbers, admission dates, and discharge clinics.
Using the Crisis Observation Center, Polk County Health Services supplies mental health services for citizens of Polk County, IA and is the regional administrator and governing board for mental health and disability services for the county.
Polk County Health Services knows who obtained the information and were able to determine the types of information that has obtained by them. The explanation for the impermissible disclosure of protected health information and how PHI came to be disclosed was not outlined in the substitute breach notice published on the Polk County Health Service official website.
Measures have been employed to stop any additional disclosures of personal information or protected health information, and also to stop any further dissemination of the data. The measures taken include providing further training to employees on the importance of safeguarding the privacy of patients and the implementation of more computer security protections and protocols to stop the unauthorized accessing and disclosure of PHI.
No reports have been submitted to suggest any patient’s PHI has been improperly used; however, as a precaution, all peopele affected by the breach have been offered free credit monitoring services for one year. Alerts were mailed to affected people in April and the incident has been made known to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR).