Western CT Health Network: Patient information may be compromised

Posted on: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 By: KorchekStaff

The Western Connecticut Health Network is sending out letters “out of an abundance of caution” to patients who may have had some their medical records compromised.

WCHN announced Monday that it is addressing “a privacy incident involving information pertaining to some of its patients.”

In a statement, WCHN said:

“On June 21, 2019, WCHN learned that a box containing medical records that it had sent via the United States Postal Service to the Connecticut State Department of Public Health had broken open during shipping and its contents were damaged. WCHN had sent the box of medical records to the DPH on June 11, 2019, in accordance with its reporting requirements under Connecticut law.

“Upon learning of the incident, WCHN immediately launched an investigation and worked with the USPS to retrieve the damaged box. On July 9, 2019, the box was returned by the USPS to WCHN.

“WCHN has no indication that the box of medical records ever left USPS custody until it was returned to WCHN.

“WCHN then undertook a comprehensive review of the medical records that were returned in the damaged box. Through this review, WCHN determined that the box contained reports for some WCHN patients, which included patient names, addresses, dates of birth, medical record numbers, provider names, medical record numbers, dates of diagnosis, diagnoses, and diagnostic test information.

“WCHN has no evidence that any information that was in the damaged box has been misused. However, out of an abundance of caution, WCHN will begin mailing notification letters to potentially affected patients on August 19, 2019, and has established a dedicated incident response line to answer any questions.

“If you believe you may be affected by this incident, but did not receive a letter by August 30, 2019, please call (833) 762-0225, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

“WCHN regrets any inconvenience or concern this may cause you. To help prevent an incident like this from happening in the future, WCHN is changing its procedures regarding the transmission of patient information to the DPH.”

This spring, the health network that runs Danbury, New Milford and Norwalk hospitals has completed a deal with a four-hospital group in New York to form a medical system that stretches from the Hudson River to the Long Island Sound.

Federal and state agencies approved the $2.4 medical system, known as Nuvance Health, which serves an estimated 1.5 million patients with 12,000 employees and 2,600 physicians.

The merger, announced in 2018, placed under single ownership Connecticut hospitals in Danbury, Norwalk, New Milford and Sharon, and New York hospitals in Carmel, Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck.

The merger required approval from the Federal Trade Commission and the health departments and the state attorneys general in Connecticut and New York.

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