Beaumont Health has fired an employee suspected of disclosing confidential information of more than 1,000 patients to a person believed to have been working on behalf of a personal injury attorney, the Southfield-based hospital system confirmed last week.
In a statement, Beaumont said it has notified 1,182 individuals who may have had their data compromised. The eight-hospital health system said it is working with law enforcement on the investigation and has notified the Michigan Health & Hospital Association to alert other hospitals about the incident and guard against similar intrusions.
"This incident does not affect all patients of Beaumont," Beaumont's statement said. "The individual responsible for this incident has been terminated and is no longer employed by Beaumont. Beaumont has also taken steps to improve internal procedures to identify and remediate future threats in order to minimize the risk of a similar incident in the future."
Beaumont discovered the patient data breach Dec. 10 and began an internal investigation. From Feb. 1, 2017, until October 22, 2019, "the former employee accessed and disclosed protected health information without authorization. The information accessed included names, addresses, dates of birth, phone number, email addresses, reason for treatment, insurance information and Social Security numbers," Beaumont said.
Notified individuals have been advised on how to further protect their information and monitor financial accounts for fraud. They also were asked to closely review health insurance claim information. Those having Social Security numbers exposed have been given information about enrolling in free credit monitoring, Beaumont said.
Patients seeking more information can call Beaumont at (866) 977-0774 from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday.
It is not believed Beaumont has experienced or reported a data hack or unauthorized patient data loss, according to HHS.
Beaumont Health is one of the largest health systems in Michigan with total net revenue of $4.7 billion, eight hospitals with 3,429 beds, 145 outpatient sites, nearly 5,000 physicians, 38,000 employees and 3,500 volunteers. It accounted for 178,000 inpatient discharges, 18,000 births and 573,000 emergency visits.
This story first appeared in Crain's Detroit Business.