Cancer Treatment Centers of America Notifies Almost 42,000 Patients of Possible Access to Their Protected Health Information

CORRECTION:  I don’t know how I did it, but instead of typing 42,000, I kept typing 92,000 when I originally wrote this one up.  The number of patients affected was 41,948, as it said at the bottom of the post.  My apologies to CTCA.

Another phishing incident where an employee’s email account was storing a lot of patient information. And because it wasn’t clear whether any of the data were accessed in the few hours that the account was compromised, the entity had to notify almost 42,000 patients. Surely reducing the amount of stored mail in employee accounts could reduce the cost of incidence response and the blow to patient trust, no?  From their web site, their notice:

Cancer Treatment Centers of America® at Western Regional Medical Center Patient Notification

Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) at Western Regional Medical Center recently learned about a security incident that may have involved certain personal information about some of our patients.

On September 26, 2018, we discovered that, for a brief period, an unauthorized user accessed the email account of one of our employees due to a “phishing” attack. The employee had provided their network log-in credentials in response to a fraudulent email that appeared to come from a CTCA® executive. We promptly opened an investigation and retained a nationally recognized forensics firm to assist us in this matter. The investigation determined that it was possible for the unauthorized user to access information in the email account for only a short time on May 2, 2018. The investigation further confirmed that, within hours of the phishing attack, the employee’s password had been changed at the direction of the CTCA Information Technology Department, after which the compromised credentials could no longer be used to access the email account. However, because we were unable to determine whether the unauthorized user actually accessed any personal information, we are providing notice of this event. The personal information that may have been accessed included patient names and may have also included patients’ address, date of birth, email, phone number, and/or medical information, such as medical record number, facility, treatment dates, physician name, cancer type, and/or health insurance information. For a very small number of patients the information also included social security numbers. No financial information was involved.

CTCA will individually notify potentially impacted patients for whom we have a valid mailing address. For the few patients whose social security numbers may have been involved, the notice will include specific information about how to enroll in free credit monitoring and identity protection services. These services will be provided free of charge for 12 months. Impacted patients are advised to regularly monitor any explanation of benefits statements received from their health plan to check for any unfamiliar health care services. If patients notice any health care services they did not receive listed on one of these statements, they should contact their health plan.

We take our responsibility to safeguard personal information seriously and remain committed to protecting patient privacy and security. We have provided additional education to our workforce about how to identify suspicious emails to help ensure this does not happen in the future. If you have any questions about this situation, please do not hesitate to contact our dedicated assistance line at 1-877-441-2645, from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. CT, Monday through Saturday (excluding major U.S. holidays).

In response to an inquiry from DataBreaches.net, a spokesperson informed this site that 41,948 patients were affected.

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