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OHSU Google Cloud Storage Puts Patient Health Information at Risk

By Vigilize | Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - Leave a Comment

Security of private health data for over 3 thousand patients compromised by residents using Gmail.

Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) is currently in hot water for storing patient data and health information in a cloud service without first conducting due diligence.

On July 26, OHSU alerted 3,044 of its patients that it had stored their health data using Google Drive and Google Mail. Google is not a business associate for OHSU and there is no contract in place to ensure the security of patient health information stored within Google’s cloud servers.

With this issue brought to light, OHSU quickly took actions to remove all protected health information from Google’s services and composed the following letter to inform patients of the situation.

In May 2013, an OHSU School of Medicine faculty member discovered residents, or physicians-in-training, in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery were using Internet-based services to maintain a spreadsheet of patients. Their intent was to provide each other up-to-date information about who was admitted to the hospital under the care of their division.

Upon learning of the incident, OHSU Information Privacy and Security experts undertook an extensive investigation to determine what information was stored on the Internet-based service, who was impacted and the likelihood that disclosure of the information could cause harm to the patients involved. This investigation led to the discovery of a similar practice in the Department of Urology and in Kidney Transplant Services. After weeks spent reconstructing the data, the privacy and security experts discovered 3,044 patients admitted to the hospital between Jan. 1, 2011, and July 3, 2013, were affected.

The data stored with the Internet service provider included the patient’s name, medical record number, dates of service, age, provider’s name and diagnosis/prognosis. For 731 patients, the data also included an address. For 617 patients, neither the reason for hospital stay, or diagnosis, nor the patient’s prognosis, or projected outcome, was among the stored data. The data DID NOT include the patient’s Social Security Number, insurance information, credit card information, bank information, phone number or date of birth.

And check out this infotex awareness poster dealing with this exact issue! Don’t let this happen to your company. Practice due diligence before you upload data to any cloud service. Awareness Poster: Storing Data on the Cloud Isn’t Always Safe

Original article by Patrick Ouellette.
Read the full story here.

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