Over 12,000 Massachusetts Patients Affected by Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island’s Data Breach

To resolve information breach allegations, Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island will pay $150,000 in a lawsuit filed by the state of Massachusetts. The state accused the hospital of failing to protect the confidential data of over 12,000 residents.

It was over two years ago that Women and Infants Hospital discovered that 19 unencrypted back-up tapes had gone missing from prenatal diagnostic centers in New Bedford and Providence. The tapes should have been delivered to Care New England Health System and sent off-site. The move was to facilitate the transfer of legacy radiology data to a new archiving system.

The consent judgment says that data breached included the names of patients, their birth dates, social security numbers, the names of their doctors, patient exam dates, and ultrasound images. The state said that the data breach occurred because the hospitals tracking and inventory system was not adequate, and that almost a year purportedly lapsed before anyone noticed during the Spring of 2012 that the tapes were even missing. The state of Massachusetts says that deficient internal policies and employee training then caused the breach to go unreported until the fall of that year.

Moving forward, the hospital must make sure that this type of breach doesn’t occur again. Women and Infants Hospital has said it would execute more steps to make sure that it is in compliance with federal and state data security regulations and laws. This includes keeping a current inventory of custodians, locations, and descriptions of unencrypted electronic media, paper patient charts with personal data, and protected health information. The hospital will also review and audit security measures and make corrective changes where needed.

Addressing this case, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said that it is the responsibility of healthcare entities and hospitals to protect personal and private health data. She noted that the breach places thousands of Massachusetts residents at risk.

In Massachusetts, our Boston breach of privacy lawyers represent patients whose privacy has been violated because a hospital or some other entity exposed personal data that should have stayed confidential. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP to request your free case consultation.

Women & Infants Hospital to Pay $150,000 to Settle Data Breach Allegations Involving Massachusetts Patients, Mass.gov, July 23, 2014
Women & Infants Hospital settles lawsuit with Massachusetts, ABC6.com, July 23, 2014

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