BOSTON – Following a data breach that affected more than 15,000 Massachusetts residents, UMass Memorial Medical Group Inc. and UMass Memorial Medical Center Inc. will have to pay $230,000 to resolve claims due to exposed personal and health information.
According to Attorney General Maura Healey’s complaint, filed last week along with a consent judgment in Suffolk Superior Court, two former employees of UMass Memorial Medical Group Inc. and UMass Memorial Medical Center Inc. in separate breaches improperly accessed patients’ personal and protected health information for fraudulent purposes, such as opening cell phone accounts and credit card accounts.
“Massachusetts residents rely on their health care providers to keep private health information safe and secure,” said AG Healey. “This resolution ensures UMass Memorial implements important measures to prevent this type of breach from happening again.”
The AG’s Office alleges the UMass entities violated the Consumer Protection Act, the Massachusetts Data Security Law, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act when they failed to properly protect patients’ information.
The lawsuit alleges that UMass Memorial Medical Group Inc. and UMass Memorial Medical Center Inc. knew of these employees’ misconduct but failed to properly investigate complaints related to these breaches, discipline the employees involved in a timely manner, or take other steps to safeguard the information.
Investigations revealed that the breaches exposed patient information including names, addresses, social security numbers, clinical information and health insurance information.
UMass Memorial released the following statement in response to the AG’s decision: “UMass Memorial regrets that these incidents occurred. In the four years since they took place we have taken steps aimed at further strengthening our privacy and information security program. This includes the implementation of additional technical tools that safeguard patient information, and enhancement of our existing privacy and information security procedures. We cooperated fully with the attorney general’s office to reach the resolution announced today.”
Per the settlement, UMass Memorial Medical Group Inc. and UMass Memorial Medical Center Inc. have agreed to conduct employee background checks and ensure proper employee discipline; train employees on the proper handling of patient information; limit employee access to patient information; identify and remediate potential data security issues; and promptly investigate suspected improper access to patient information.
The UMass Memorial entities will also be required to hire an independent third-party firm to conduct a review of its data security policies and procedures, which the health care entities will report to the AG’s Office.