California: "Privacy Breach: Hospital-Patient Data Online for Nearly a Year Before Detection"
A spreadsheet containing private data for 20,000 emergency-room patients at Stanford Hospital in California appeared on a public website on September 9, 2010. The information was discovered and reported by a patient on August 22 of this year. The website, Student of Fortune, lets students obtain paid assistance with their schoolwork.
From the New York Times:
Although medical security breaches are not uncommon, the Stanford breach was notable for the length of time that the data remained publicly available without detection.
The spreadsheet included names, diagnosis codes, account numbers, admission and discharge dates, and billing charges for patients seen at Stanford Hospital’s emergency room during a six-month period in 2009, [Mr. Gary] Migdol [Spokesman for Stanford Hospital and Clinics,] said. It did not include Social Security numbers, birth dates, credit-card numbers or other information used to perpetrate identity theft, he said, but the hospital is offering free identity protection services to affected patients.
The breach was discovered by a patient and reported to the hospital on Aug. 22, according to a letter written four days later to affected patients by Diane Meyer, Stanford Hospital’s chief privacy officer. The hospital took “aggressive steps,” and the Web site removed the post the next day, Ms. Meyer wrote. It also notified state and federal agencies, Mr. Migdol said.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.