The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) recently announced a data breach concerning COVID-19 testing results had occurred. Thousands of individuals are affected by this incident.
What happened?On September 16th, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) realized that an unauthorized user received two unencrypted emails. A temporary staff member sent these emails on August 13 and August 20. Both emails contained information about patients’ COVID-19 testing results. The emails were meant for internal distribution and were supposed to only go to a designated call center for individuals to obtain their test results. The emails’ recipient alerted DPH of the unauthorized emails and deleted all of the information received inadvertently. SEE ALSO: The Complete Guide to HIPAA Violations
Breached informationThe emails contained approximately 10,000 COVID-19 testing results. Data included patient names, dates of birth, phone numbers, testing locations, testing dates, and test results. The emails didn’t contain any financial information. There is currently no evidence to suggest patient data was misused in any way.
What happens now?As per protocol, DPH reviewed the incident, reinforced HIPAA policies and procedures, and re-trained permanent and temporary employees about HIPAA. They also reported the data breach to DHSS and the Delaware Department of Justice. There will most likely be an investigation into the HIPAA violation . DHS could face hefty fines and a corrective action plan to ensure compliance in the future.
How Paubox could have prevented this scenarioThis HIPAA violation happened through human error, so it’s vital to proactively create safeguards to protect electronic protected health information ( ePHI ). Paubox Email Suite Premium is a HIPAA compliant email solution that prevents emails from being sent to unauthorized users - intentionally or innocently. One of the critical security features of Paubox is our data loss prevention ( DLP ) tool. A healthcare provider can set up their own rules to prevent sensitive data from getting sent or received. If you have these email DLP rules running, you can easily avoid the HIPAA violation that the Delaware DHS is experiencing. Paubox Email Suite is a safe and secure way to protect your data from getting into the wrong hands.
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