UMass Medical Pays $230G to Settle Breach
BOSTON -- UMass Memorial Medical Group Inc. and UMass Memorial Medical Center Inc. will pay a total of $230,000 to resolve claims that two separate data breaches exposed the personal and health information of more than 15,000 Massachusetts residents, Attorney General Maura Healey announced Thursday.
According to the AG’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 cellphone accounts and credit card accounts.
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.
“Massachusetts residents rely on their health care providers to keep private health information safe and secure,” said Healey. “This resolution ensures UMass Memorial implements important measures to prevent this type of breach from happening again.”
Investigations by the AG’s Office revealed that the breaches exposed patient information including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, clinical information and health insurance information.
The AG’s 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.
As part of the settlement, the 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.
UMass Memorial issued a statement about Thursday’s settlement with the AG’s Office as follows:
“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,” read the statement. “We cooperated fully with the attorney general’s office to reach the resolution announced today.”
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael Wong and Legal Analyst Elizabeth Carnes Flynn, with assistance from Division Chief Eric Gold, all of Healey’s Health Care Division.