With the rapid influx of advanced technologies and digital solutions, the healthcare industry has transformed almost beyond recognition in the last two decades. Most modern hospitals, clinics, and healthcare facilities store silos of patient data for diagnoses, treatment tracking, continuity of care, and billing or insurance purposes, to name a few.
However, the industry faces unprecedented challenges in safeguarding patient data with hackers targeting their servers and infrastructure. The most recent data breach at HCA Healthcare, a nationwide healthcare facility operator, has highlighted the security threats looming in the industry today and their potential implications for patients and healthcare facilities.
In this blog, we’ll delve into the details of this high-profile data breach, including the information compromised, the company’s response, and the growing need for enhanced data security in the healthcare industry.
The HCA Healthcare Data Breach
HCA Healthcare is one of the biggest hospital and clinic operators, with patients in 180 hospitals and 2,000 care facilities across 20 US states, including Nevada, Colorado, etc. The Tennessee-based healthcare chain reported that an unknown, unauthorized party had hacked into their servers to steal the records of at least 11 million patients. The compromised data includes (but isn’t limited to):
- Patient names
- Patient addresses (cities, states, zip codes, etc.)
- Contact information (phone numbers, email addresses, etc.)
- Personal information and health records (Birth, gender, upcoming appointment dates, etc.)
The HCA Healthcare data breach is one of the biggest breaches ever. The company located the breach in one of their external storage locations used for email formatting automation. Upon discovery, HCA Healthcare restricted access to this storage location to contain the spread and initiate recovery.
The hacker posted a million patient records online on July 5, 2023, to attract potential buyers or extort HCA. They claimed to have over 27.7 million patient records and threatened to dump the entire file online. Fortunately, the company found out through a third-party data forensic and intelligence report that the hackers didn’t get access to sensitive information, including:
- Patient diagnostics and treatment reports
- Payment information
- Patient portal passwords
- Social security number, etc.
However, since the data breach, many patients have received phishing emails and fake calls asking to pay invoices or provide payment details. As a result, HCA Healthcare has requested patients to call the chain at (844) 608-1803 for verification before paying.
The breach has also prompted several affiliated organizations to speak up on the issue. For instance, Hankins & Sohn Plastic Surgery Associates in Las Vegas share their knowledge of the data breach, compromised data, and its response to the incident with its clients and stakeholders. The plastic surgery group also provided steps to take if contacted by an unknown actor on their number, email, or social media.
The HCA Healthcare data breach has raised several concerns in the industry and highlighted the need for hyper-vigilance in protecting patient data and privacy. Cyber-attack risk will increase as technology advances, prompting more hospitals and clinics to digitalize their workflow and operations.
Therefore, healthcare facilities and organizations must proactively invest in data security and recovery to prevent issues and mitigate some risks. HCA Healthcare has reported the incident to law enforcement agencies in all operating states and has taken the mandatory steps to comply with key legal and regulatory bodies.
However, suppose you’re a patient of any of HCA Healthcare’s partnered facilities who recently became aware of the breach or has been contacted by a malicious criminal demanding a ransom for your data. In that case, you must immediately hire a data privacy lawyer to get maximum compensation for data disclosure, theft, or alteration.
The Bourassa Law Group is at your service with a team of highly capable Colorado and Nevada data breach lawyers. Call us today at 800-870-8910 so we can discuss your case in detail.
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