Seven breaches in a less than five-year period
How many breaches, how many compromises of patients' confidential medical information does it take before there are some questions asked of an organization and its security policies? One health system, for instance, recently announced its seventh large HIPAA breach.
The 20-hospital St. Vincent health system in Indianapolis, part of Ascension Health, most recently notified 760 of its medical group patients that their Social Security numbers and clinical data was compromised in an email phishing incident. The breach, which was discovered by hospital officials back in December 2014, marked the seventh breach for the health system in a less than five years.
[See also: HIPAA breaches: The list keeps growing.]
It wasn't until March 12, 2015, that officials said they discovered which patients were impacted by the breach, which involved the compromise of an employee's network username and password.
"St.Vincent Medical Group sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience this unfortunate incident may cause," St. Vincent officials wrote in the patient notification letter.
According to data from the Office for Civil Rights, which keeps track of HIPAA breaches involving 500 people or more, St. Vincent health system has been a repeat HIPAA offender. Its most recent breach, reported in July 2014, compromised the health data of 63,325 patients after a clerical error sent patients letters to the wrong patients.
[See also: Report: Healthcare state of security a mixed bag.]
The health system has also reported two breaches involving the theft of unencrypted laptops, which collectively compromised the health data of 2,341 patients.