A virus has breached the electronic medical record (EMR) system at a hospital in Colorado, exposing the protected health information (PHI) of 5,400 patients.
At Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, Colo., a virus took patient information and put it in a hidden, encrypted folder in September of last year. The folder was not discovered until January of this year, when the IT department detected a virus. The hospital hired a technology forensics team, which was able to track the virus. As far as why it took until March to notify the public, the hospital's PR team told Aspen Daily News Online, it took this amount of time to find the folder and evaluate who was at risk and conduct analysis.
The hospital says there no evidence that the encrypted data was accessed by or transmitted to an outside entity. The data varied, but included individual names and in some cases addresses, date of birth, telephone numbers, social security numbers, credit card information, admission date, discharge date, and patient visit numbers.
“We apologize for any inconvenience or concern that this may cause our patients, employees and their families,” stated Gary Brewer, chief executive officer of the Valley View Hospital Association, in the press release. “We take our responsibility to protect patient information very seriously. We have responded to this situation as quickly and comprehensively as possible, and we continue to monitor progress as we take steps to inform and support those potentially affected by this incident.”
In the press release, Valley View says it has increased security measures and procedures. This includes upgrading anti-virus software and erecting more firewalls to prevent this kind of extraction, reports the Aspen Daily News Online. It's also offering the standard, industry protections such as free credit monitoring and a dedicated information line.