PeaceHealth employee inappropriately accesses 2k patients' records

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Vancouver, Wash.-based PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center began notifying 1,969 patients Sept. 11 after it discovered an employee accessed protected health information without authorization, a spokesperson told Becker's Hospital Review.

On Aug. 9, hospital officials learned an employee had accessed the electronic files for a group of patients. Officials discovered the incident through "patient privacy safeguards in place" at the hospital, according to a notice posted on its website.

An investigation into the incident revealed the access occurred between November 2011 and July 2017. The hospital spokesperson confirmed the employee responsible no longer works for PeaceHealth.

The hospital is offering support through a toll-free call line. It does not believe affected patients are at risk for identity theft because no financial information or Social Security numbers were compromised, according to a notice posted on its website.

"We remain committed to investing in advanced technology and following industry best practices to appropriately monitor and safeguard the protected health information of our patients," the spokesperson said. "In addition, to help prevent future incidents such as this, we are reinforcing education with our staff regarding the appropriate access of patient information."

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