Kaiser in hot water

Medical group under investigation for patient-data breach

Kaiser Permanente is being investigated by state and federal officials for a possible breach of patient privacy.

Kaiser hired Sure File Filing Systems, run by Stephan and Liza Dean, to organize and transfer thousands of patient records when the medical group purchased the Moreno Valley Community Hospital in Southern California in 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Deans stored thousands of the files in a warehouse in Indio; hospital clerks routinely emailed the Deans for specific patient records. Of the emails—which contained full names, dates of birth, physicians’ names, Social Security numbers and treatment dates—only about one of 600 was encrypted with a password.

The California Department of Public Health determined Kaiser “failed to safeguard all patients’ medical records” by trusting the information with Sure File; penalties will be determined following the investigation.

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