By Jennifer van der Kleut
The Fairfax County Health Department has mailed letters to nearly 1,500 clients of the Bailey's Health Center in Falls Church regarding an unauthorized disclosure of protected health information.
The Bailey's Health Center is one of the health department's three Community Health Care Network clinics. The department contracts with Molina Healthcare to manage the clinics. Molina subcontracts with Health Business Systems, which maintains a pharmacy database and provides prescription services to Bailey's Health Center patients.
On Oct. 18, Health Business Systems notified Molina that a computer file containing pharmaceutical records was "inadvertently left on an unsecured computer server" and accessed by three separate entities on four occasions between Sept. 9 and Oct. 3. Molina notified the Fairfax County Health Department on Oct. 24.
The patient information that was accessed included names and addresses, pharmacy identification numbers, medication names and dosages, payment information, prescribers' names and addresses, and some Social Security Numbers.
The health department has advised affected clients to take precautions, such as setting up fraud alerts and taking advantage of a free credit monitoring service.
"Fairfax County takes the circumstances surrounding this breach of patient privacy very seriously," according to a statement released by the county. "Although the County has in place multiple administrative requirements needed to protect health information in compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), this incident has lead us to review our current contract language and requirements related to the handling of pharmaceutical records to prevent such occurrences in the future."
"We plan to take further steps to safeguard our patient care records including a review of existing databases in order to confirm that all private patient information is secured on encrypted servers pursuant to Fairfax County policy," the statement continued. "Fairfax County will continue to take all necessary steps to protect the personal information of patients of the (Community Health Care Network)."
Bailey's Health Center patients who would like more information about this breach may contact:
Robin Mullet, CHCN Assistant Program Manager
10777 Main Street, Suite 203, Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: (703) 246-2962, TTY 711
Bailey's Health Center patients who require additional information concerning HIPAA patient rights or who believe that Fairfax County has not complied with HIPAA requirements in this action may contact:
Fairfax County Government HIPAA Compliance Program
George M. Ward, HIPAA Compliance Manager
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 527, Fairfax, VA 22035
Phone: (703) 324-4136, TTY (703) 968-0217
Secretary of the Federal Department of Health and Human Services
Office for Civil Rights, Region III
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
150 S. Independence Mall West, Suite 372, Philadelphia, PA 19106-3499
Phone: (215) 861-4441, TTY (215) 861-4440