Notification of Possible Personal Health Information Disclosure
Apr 28, 2015
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), which operates Bellevue Hospital Center began this week to notify about 3,300 Bellevue patients about the possible disclosure of some of their protected health information (PHI) when a Bellevue employee improperly sent a spreadsheet containing PHI to an unauthorized recipient.
The unauthorized disclosure was discovered by HHC’s information governance and security program that, among other things, monitors and detects all email communications that contain PHI and other confidential information that are sent from HHC’s information systems without proper authorization. A sample notification to the affected patients is attached. Notifications will also be posted on the HHC website and will be distributed to numerous New York area news outlets. The information in the spreadsheet included the names, medical record numbers, e-mail addresses, insurance carrier information, and limited sensitive health information of the affected patients.
Based on HHC’s investigation into the unauthorized disclosure, the spreadsheet has been deleted from all known unauthorized sources to which it was sent and there is no basis to believe that it was forwarded to any other site before deletion. There is no evidence to suggest that the spreadsheet was received or viewed by anyone other than the single unauthorized recipient, and there is no evidence to suggest that the PHI contained in the spreadsheet was misused or further disclosed in any manner.
Nonetheless, in an abundance of caution, HHC has taken decisive steps to protect the individuals who are potentially affected by offering, through a third-party vendor, free credit monitoring services for one year to those patients whose medical records may have been improperly disclosed. Affected patients who have questions about this incident, including how to sign up for free credit monitoring services, may contact Bellevue Privacy Officer Christopher Roberson at .
HHC has taken immediate measures to prevent the recurrence of an incident of this nature by automatically blocking of email communications containing PHI and other confidential information from being sent from HHC’s information systems to any site or entity outside of the HHC security network unless for a legitimate business purpose.
Contact: Press Office,
About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is a $6.7 billion integrated healthcare delivery system and is the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country. HHC provides a wide range of high quality and affordable healthcare services to 1.4 million New Yorkers every year and more than 475,000 are uninsured. HHC offers medical, mental health and substance abuse services, as well as specialized care for a wide range of health conditions through its numerous Centers of Excellence. Comprehensive, personalized care is available to all New Yorkers at HHC’s 11 acute care hospitals, five skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 70 community based clinics. HHC Health and Home Care also provides in-home services for New Yorkers. HHC’s own MetroPlusHealth Health Plan is one of the New York area’s largest providers of government-sponsored health insurance and is the plan of choice for 445,000 New Yorkers. HHC was the 2008 recipient of the National Quality Forum and The Joint Commission’s John M. Eisenberg Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality. Several HHC facilities have been recognized nationally for clinical excellence and commitment to quality achievements. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org/hhc or find us on facebook.com/NYCHealthSystem or twitter.com/NYCHealthSystem.