The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County is investigating a potential hack of its information systems, but is waiting before offering protective services to affected individuals.
The department, with seven clinics, recently learned of the breach from law enforcement agencies that had obtained client information related to the health department. The agencies obtained information that included a list of names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, Medicaid numbers, phone numbers and medical record numbers.
Healthcare organizations often learn that patient information has been compromised from police, who discover patient data during investigations of other breaches. The department has not yet determined whether the breach was a hack or just a theft of documents, a spokesman told the Sun Sentinel, a local newspaper that reported that more than 1,000 patients could be at risk.
In lieu of protective services, the department is advising affected individuals to review their credit history for activities they have not authorized, and it provided them with a web site address to obtain a free credit report.
The health department also provided patients with tips to determine whether medical information has been stolen, such as getting bills for medical services not received, being contacted by debt collectors about debts they don’t owe, seeing unknown medical collection notices on a credit report, having a legitimate claim denied as the limit on benefits has been reached, getting an explanation of paid claims for care not received, and being denied insurance because medical records show a condition that the individual does not have.
A health department spokesperson did not return inquiries about the incident or why clients were not being offered identity protection services at this time.
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