Capital Digestive Care, a Silver Spring, MD-based gastroenterology group has revealed that one of its business associates shared files to a commercial cloud server that did not have proper security controls, exposing the protected health information of up to 17,639 clients.
This PHI was brought to the attention of Capital Digestive Care on February 23, 2018 and action was quickly taken to safeguard the files and eliminate further unauthorized access.
A review into the privacy breach was initiated to determine the types of files that had been exposed and the number of patients affected.
The investigation showed that some sensitive data had been exposed, although the breach was kept to individuals that had logged on to its website and shared information via the Schedule a Visit and Contact pages on the website.
The variety of information exposed was restricted to names, addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers, and birth dates. Patients may also have had a small amount of health information accessed. The login page to the patient portal and the Pay a Bill pages were unaffected, so no financial information was obtained. No patient accounts were accessed and Social Security numbers and electronic health records remained safe at all times.
Capital Digestive Care has taken further steps to prevent breaches of PHI going forward. All third-party vendors must now confirm compliance with HIPAA Security Rule provisions relating to the secure storage of personal information.
All patients affected by the incident have been alerted by mail and given information on monitoring and protecting their personal data.
It is not clear for how long patient files were exposed and how many unauthorized people viewed patient information.
Capital Digestive Care has not been contacted with any reports implying that the exposed information has been downloaded by unauthorized individuals.