Physiatry Group Integrated Rehab Consultants based in Chicago, IL-based is issuing notification letters to impacted patients alerting them of the exposure of some of their protected health information in line with HIPAA requirements.
However, the breach was not first noticed in the last 60 days as Integrated Rehab Consultants (IRC) became aware of the exposure of PHI 16 months ago on December 2, 2016.
The information which included data such as patients’ full names, address, date of birth, gender, medical provider information, visit date, visit status, admission date, appointment visit ID, treatment location, procedure code, and diagnosis codes – had been published on a publicly accessible repository. The PHI was noticed by a healthcare security researcher who alerted IRC about the breach.
Swift action was taken to delete and secure the data and a review was launched to deduce how and why the data had been published in a insecure location. That review determined that a business associate who had been supplied with the PHI had disclosed the data to a third party. It was that subcontractor that made the mistake and published the data to the public repository.
When the breach occurred, IRC only believed the information had been accessed by the security researcher. However, in its substitute breach notice, IRC outlined that in the Autumn of 2017 it became clear that other people may also have accessed to the information.
Patients possibly affected have been offered free credit monitoring and identity restoration services for one year and notified about the incident ‘out of an abundance of caution.’ ICR has not received any official reports to imply any patient information has been improperly used, although affected persons have been warned to review their credit reports and EoB statements carefully and to stay vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud.
Patients may not have been warned of the exposure of their PHI within 60 days of the first discovery as it may not have been felt there was a major risk of financial loss or damage, although it is unclear why there was a slowness in sending notifications when it was thought that other peoples may have gained access to the information.