September 2019 Healthcare Data Breach Report

By | October 21, 2019

September saw 36 healthcare data breaches of more than 500 records reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, which represents a 26.53% decrease in breaches from the previous month.

September 2019 Healthcare Data Breach Report

1,957,168 healthcare records were compromised in those breaches, an increase of 168.11% from August. The large number of breached records is largely down to four reported incidents, each of which involved hundreds of thousands of healthcare records. Three of those incidents have been confirmed as ransomware attacks.

September 2019 Healthcare Data Breach Report

Largest Healthcare Data Breaches in September 2019

The largest breach of the month was due to a ransomware attack on Jacksonville, FL-based North Florida OB-GYN, part of Women’s Care of Florida. 528,188 healthcare records were potentially compromised as a result of the attack. Sarrell Dental also experienced a ransomware attack in which the records of 391,472 patients of its Alabama clinics were encrypted. 320,000 records of patients of Premier Family Medical in Utah were also potentially compromised in a ransomware attack. The University of Puerto Rico reported a network server hacking incident involving 439,753 records of Intramural Practice Plan members. The exact nature of the breach is unclear.

Those four breaches accounted for 85.80% of the healthcare records breached in September.

Name of Covered Entity Covered Entity Type Individuals Affected Type of Breach Location of Breached Information
Women’s Care Florida, LLC Healthcare Provider 528188 Hacking/IT Incident Network Server
Intramural Practice Plan – Medical Sciences Campus – University of Puerto Rico Healthcare Provider 439753 Hacking/IT Incident Network Server
Sarrell Dental Healthcare Provider 391472 Hacking/IT Incident Network Server
Premier Family Medical Healthcare Provider 320000 Hacking/IT Incident Network Server
Magellan Healthcare Business Associate 55637 Hacking/IT Incident Email
CHI Health Orthopedics Clinic -Lakeside Healthcare Provider 48000 Hacking/IT Incident Desktop Computer, Electronic Medical Record, Network Server
Kilgore Vision Center Healthcare Provider 40000 Hacking/IT Incident Network Server
Peoples Injury Network Northwest Healthcare Provider 27000 Hacking/IT Incident Network Server
Sweetser Healthcare Provider 22000 Hacking/IT Incident Email
Perfect Teeth Yale, P.C. Healthcare Provider 15000 Loss Other Portable Electronic Device

Causes of September 2019 Healthcare Data Breaches

Hacking/IT incidents dominated the breach reports in September with 24 incidents reported. There were 9 unauthorized access/disclosure incidents and three cases of loss/theft of physical and electronic records.

1,917,657 healthcare records were compromised in the 24 hacking/IT incidents which accounted for 97.98% of breached records in September. The mean breach size was 958,829 records and the median breach size was 5,255 records.

Unauthorized access/disclosure incidents in September accounted for 1% or 19,741 breached records. The mean breach size was 2,193 records and the median breach size was 998 records. There were two reported theft incidents involving 4,770 physical and electronic records and a single loss incident involving 15,000 records stored on a portable electronic device.

September 2019 Healthcare Data Breach Report

Location of Breached Protected Health Information

Phishing continues to be a major problem area for the healthcare industry. In September, 44.44% of all breaches – 16 incidents – involved PHI stored in email accounts. There were 13 network server incidents, a large percentage of which were ransomware attacks.

September 2019 Healthcare Data Breach Report

September 2019 Healthcare Data Breaches by Covered Entity Type

28 data breaches were reported by healthcare providers in September, four incidents were reported by health plans/health insurers, and four incidents were reported by business associates of HIPAA covered entities. A further four breaches had some business associate involvement but were reported by the covered entity.

September 2019 Healthcare Data Breach Report

States Affected by September 2019 Healthcare Data Breaches

September’s data breaches were reported by entities in 23 states and Puerto Rico. California, Maryland, and Washington were the worst affected with three breaches each. There were two breaches reported by entities based in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, and South Carolina, and one breach was reported in each of Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico.

HIPAA Enforcement Activity in September 2019

In September 2019, the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights announced its third HIPAA violation penalty of the year. Bayfront Health St Petersburg in Florida was issued with an $85,000 financial penalty for the failure to provide a patient with a copy of her child’s fetal heart monitor records within a reasonable time frame. It took 9 months and multiple attempts by the patient before she was provided with the records.

This month, OCR Director Roger Severino gave an update on OCR’s main enforcement priorities and confirmed that noncompliance with the HIPAA right of access is still a major focus for OCR. Further financial penalties can be expected over the coming weeks and months for healthcare organizations that fail to provide individuals with copies of their health information within a reasonable time frame and at a reasonable cost.

There were no financial penalties issued by state attorneys general in September over HIPAA violations.

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