A provider of mental health treatment and support services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Center for Health Care Services (CHCS), has foudn that documents containing the protected health information of patients have been illegally taken by a former member of staff.
Breach notification letters have been issued to 28,434 patients who received services at San Antonio-based CHCS prior to the summer of 2016 telling them of the breach.
The breach was only found on November 7, 2017, but the data theft happened more than 17 months ago. The former member of staff was terminated on May 31, 2016, with the data downloaded onto a personal computer after they were fired, according to a recent CHCS announcement.
The breach was found during discovery in a litigation case between the former member of staff and CHCS. No details have been made public about the nature of the litigation.
The stolen documents included a wide range of highly sensitive information on patients, including adults and children. Names, dates of birth, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates and types of services, medical details, referral information, progress notes, medical diagnoses, medications prescribed, treatment plans, laboratory and toxicology reports, death certificates, autopsy reports, discharge dates, death summaries and collateral hospital information were among the data taken.
The driving factor for the former employee taking the data is unclear, although it does not appear that the information has been used for malicious aims. CHCS believes the data has not been shared with any unauthorized people, other than the former employee’s attorneys. CHCS attorneys have also reportedly took a copy of the data.
According to the CHCS news release, patients are not believed to be at risk and there are no actions that need to be taken by patients as a result of the breach. Patients will be informed if the situation changes.
A CHCS statement said, “Attorneys for CHCS are seeking a protective order to prevent further disclosure of the information, and to verify deletion of the information as soon as the court permits.”
CHCS is also taking measures to ensure security is enhanced to stop future breaches of this nature from happening.