Published: 11:14 am, Wed. Aug. 28th, 2019
Artesia General Hospital (AGH) has announced that it has begun mailing letters to patients potentially impacted by a recent phishing incident.
AGH recently learned that unauthorized emails were being sent from an employee’s email account. AGH secured the account, began an investigation, and a leading computer forensic firm was engaged to assist.
On June 28, the investigation determined that an unauthorized person accessed the account between June 11 and June 18. The investigation was not able to determine which emails or attachments, if any, were viewed by the unauthorized individual, so the hospital conducted a comprehensive review of the emails and attachments in the account.
The review identified some patient information in the account, which may have included names, dates of birth, medical records or patient account numbers, health insurance information, and limited treatment and/or clinical information, such as diagnosis, provider name, and dates of service. In some instances, patients’ Social Security numbers were also included in the account.
This incident did not affect all AGH patients, only those who had information contained in the affected email account.
AGH says it has no evidence that any patient information has been misused, but it is mailing letters to patients whose information was found in the account. The hospital has also established a dedicated toll-free call center to answer any questions individuals may have about the incident.
For those AGH patients whose Social Security number was contained in the email account, the hospital is offering complimentary credit monitoring and identity protection services. AGH also recommends that affected patients review statements they receive from their health insurers or healthcare providers. If they see services they did not receive, they should contact the insurer or provider immediately.
To help prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, AGH says it has reinforced education with its staff regarding how to identify and avoid suspicious emails and is making additional security enhancements.
Additional information is posted on AGH’s website at artesiageneral.com/notice-of-privacy-incident, and patients with questions can contact the call center at 1-855-347-6549 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday or 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.