A Florida healthcare provider, Orlando Health, is notifying patients impacted by a breach, involving insider record snooping during the treatment period, of patients brought from the Pulse Night Club Incident.
During high-profile emergency situations and other crises, it is a challenge for healthcare organizations to protect the privacy and security of patient information, from inappropriate access, of people who are part of the organizations workforce. Curiosity &snooping seem to be part of human nature. With that said, it is extremely important for healthcare organizations to be diligent in limiting access, monitoring access and providing repercussions for those who don’t follow the rules. In a letter to patients, dated July 12 2016, Orlando Health, which operates several hospitals in central Florida, said: “While conducting patient record access audits, we learned that on June 15, an Orlando Health employee accessed patient records outside of the employee’s current job responsibilities. had no reason to access these records and we believe the employee was viewing these records out of personal curiosity. The employee was sanctioned, per Orlando Health policy.” The letter goes on to state that “the employee could view limited information in electronic medical records, including patient name, date of birth, weight, hospital location, hospital account number, hospital medical record number, date and time of admission, physician and visit reason. The information did not include any other clinical information. The employee did not have access to your full Social Security number or other financial information. The information was not downloaded or printed, and we have no evidence that your information has been used in any way or removed from the hospital.” The letter does not specify that patients affected by the breach were victims of the June 12 Pulse nightclub shooting. Nor does the letter indicate how many patients were impacted by the privacy incident. It was however, reported to WFTV, “that patients receiving the letter, and in some cases phone calls, from Orlando health, were treated for shotgun and other injuries sustained at the attack.”
In a statement, Orlando Health tells Information Security Media Group: “Numerous team members across our system require access to vital records and information in order to provide our patients with the highest levels of care. All team members are made aware, that they too, have a responsibility to maintain our patients’ privacy, and protect their personal information. As a result of this incident, we are re-educating our workforce members and increasing our already vigilant program of auditing and monitoring of patient record access. Any instance of team members accessing patient records outside of their current job responsibilities violates our policies, and steps are taken internally to discipline anyone involved. We want to assure our patients that the policies and procedures we have in place protect their information, and we are continually evaluating and modifying our practices and the practices of our employees to enhance the security and privacy of all confidential and protected health information entrusted to us.”