Sutter Health has notified more than 4,500 patients who visited medical centers in Antioch, Castro Valley or Oakland about the possibility that their personal data have been compromised. Last month, narcotics investigators found personal patient information during a methamphetamine bust in Oakland. Stacey Wells -- a Sutter Health spokesperson -- said that officials cannot yet disclose how or where the information was obtained because of the ongoing investigation. Oakland Tribune/San Jose Mercury News.
In 2012, 16 California agencies -- including health care departments -- and affiliated not-for-profits reported major data breaches, according to state data. For example, an unencrypted computer containing confidential information on 4,400 patients with AIDS was stolen in April 2012 from a state Department of Public Health service provider in Palms Springs. In November 2012, the Department of Health Care Services unintentionally posted online 14,000 Social Security numbers for in-home care workers. Center for Investigative Reporting.
A new proposal from HHS seeks to address legal barriers under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that prevent states from reporting certain medical and mental health data to a federal gun-purchase background check database. The Hill's "RegWatch" et al.
State officials say that the 20,000 individuals needed to assist residents enrolling in the state health insurance exchange should undergo background checks as they will have access to sensitive data. However, some stakeholders say such polices are overly intrusive. Los Angeles Times.
On Friday, a coalition of public interest groups sent a letter urging FDA to overturn its policy of redacting certain information from federal documents before turning them over to journalists, regulators and others requesting the data. The letter also asks FDA to act on a formal petition by Public Citizen, which called for the elimination of FDA's "minor deletions" policy. AP/Washington Post.
Crescent Healthcare, an Anaheim-based Walgreens company, has begun notifying individuals about a December 2012 data breach resulting from a facility break-in. Compromised data could include patients' health insurance information and clinical diagnoses. Healthcare IT News.
New health care tools are using geographic information system technology to gather data on how environmental factors could affect patients' health, which physicians and researchers hope will allow for more tailored diagnoses and treatment regimens. Despite the potential benefits such tools, some experts have expressed concern that the devices could pose significant patient privacy risks. Washington Post.
Prime Healthcare Services recently told the Rhode Island Department of Health that it faces two federal investigations. According to Prime, one investigation involves its Medicare billing practices and the other involves the disclosure of a patient's medical records. California Watch.
Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine have started notifying about 57,000 patients about a data breach that occurred Jan. 9. The incident involves the theft of a laptop computer containing patients' names, birth dates and certain clinical data. Healthcare IT News, Becker's Hospital Review.
Four new rules released by HHS expand and update the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The rules were called for under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package's HITECH Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Modern Healthcare et al.
A former patient has filed a lawsuit against Prime Healthcare Services for allegedly disclosing her confidential medical records without consent. The lawsuit alleges that the CEO of Shasta Regional Medical Center shared the patient's data with hospital employees and journalists in an effort to discredit a 2011 California Watch report about the hospital chain's billing practices. California Watch.
A state judge has denied Kaiser Permanente access to the computers and email account of a couple who stored nearly 300,000 patient records. However, the judge granted a smaller order barring the couple from retaining and disclosing any confidential patient data. Los Angeles Times.
Federal and state officials are investigating whether Kaiser Permanente violated patient privacy rules through its work with a small firm that stored its paper health records. Kaiser officials say the data were not disclosed or accessed inappropriately. Los Angeles Times.
Last month, the California Department of Health Care Services said that a computer programming error led it to inadvertently send more than 2,600 Medi-Cal benefit cards to the wrong recipients. The cards were meant for children in the Healthy Families program who were scheduled to transition to Medi-Cal on Jan. 1. Officials noted that although the cards include personal data, there "is a low likelihood" that the incident would result in identity theft or fraud. Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now," Sacramento Business Journal.
On Thursday, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ordered Walgreens to pay $16.57 million to settle allegations that hundreds of its stores violated environmental and privacy regulations by improperly disposing of hazardous waste and confidential customer records. Forty-five district attorney offices, including five in California, will receive money from the settlement. Bay City News Service/San Jose Mercury News et al.