Potential Exposure of Local Senior Information Described
June 26, 2019
The Wyoming Department of Health recently discovered an incident resulting in the online exposure of Carbon County Senior Services clients’ protected health information.
On May 1, a WDH Aging Division employee accidently sent an email without using encryption containing protected health information of more than 2,000 people who had received Carbon County senior center services. The incident was reported the same day and WDH privacy and security staff immediately began an investigation.
“While the person receiving the email was authorized to have the information, because the email was not encrypted there is a chance protected health information could have been viewed, read or saved by an unauthorized individual during transmission,” said Jeri Hendricks, Office of Privacy, Security and Contracts administrator with WDH.
No social security numbers or banking information was involved. Details included name, date of birth, phone number, county, zip code and Senior Assistant Management System (SAMS) identification number. SAMS is the system used by Wyoming senior centers to report client participation in events, activities or meals to receive reimbursement from WDH.
Lisa Osvold, Aging Division senior administrator with WDH, said “While we believe at this point the potential for harm to these individuals was quite low, we are taking this situation seriously and responding with extra care.”
Letters have been mailed to each potentially affected client, and despite the low risk of identity theft or similar harm, the program will offer each person affected the opportunity to enroll at no cost in an identity protection service for one year. Anyone with questions about whether they were affected by this incident is encouraged to contact the WDH Aging Division at 1-800-442-2766 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hendricks said, “WDH is committed to the privacy and security of protected health information. We have implemented additional technical safeguards to help prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future.”