Health Information Management

Colorado state department notifies patients of a breach

HIM-HIPAA Insider, October 20, 2014

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The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing announced October 10 that it unintentionally exposed the PHI of approximately 15,000 behavioral health patients, according to a news release.

The department mailed survey postcards to patients receiving behavioral health services from Medicaid or the Department of Human Services’ Office of Behavioral Health. The survey asked patients to provide feedback about the behavioral health serviced they received, which is a violation of HIPAA because the postcard was not in an envelope and could be read by anyone, according to the news release. The postcards did not list patients’ Social Security numbers, but included the following:
  • First and last names
  • Addresses
  • A return address for Thoroughbred Research Group, which helped conduct the survey
  • The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing logo
 
The department learned about the incident September 9 and later notified affected patients by mail. The letter to patients states that the department mailed the postcards July 30 and September 3.
 
This article originally appeared on HCPro’s HIPAA Update blog. Stay up to date on all things HIPAA by signing up for e-mail updates from this blog.



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