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Behavioral Health Network: Patients’ protected health information compromised

July 17, 2013 |

SPRINGFIELD – Springfield-based Behavioral Health Network, Inc. (BHN), a nonprofit behavioral health service agency serving the Pioneer Valley since 1938, announced they are notifying approximately 190 patients regarding unsecured personal patient protected health information after discovering the following event: On July 1, BHN discovered that approximately 190 patient records were inappropriately placed in an unsecured dumpster on BHN’s property. The records were intermingled with administrative records, which were meant to be disposed. Upon learning of this situation, BHN secured the dumpster. The dumpster was thoroughly searched and all records were retrieved and secured. BHN is notifying each individual patient that has been affected by the incident and offering resources to answer any questions or concerns that he or she may have about the current situation. All notifications will be in full compliance with all federal and state guidelines. BHN will also be contacting the appropriate state authorities of each patient’s residence as required by state regulations. The agency is working with BHN’s Compliance Department, IT Department, Legal Department, and Human Resources, to review procedures and additional safeguards for immediate implementation and to prevent this type of action in the future. Additionally, BHN is reviewing training procedures and will retrain all employees on the proper methods for disposal and storage of clinical and administrative records, along with office supplies and equipment. BHN complies with medical record storage policies keeping files safely stored for a minimum of 20 years before disposal; it is BHN policy to shred records onsite before they are transferred for disposal. BHN will continue to make its compliance department available if patients have any questions or concerns regarding their credit. BHN will also encourage patients to contact any of the three credit reporting agencies and establish a fraud alert. BHN has trained staff available for patients to call with any questions related to the incident. Patients may call 301-9402 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, with any questions. “BHN understands the importance of safeguarding our patients’ personal information and takes that responsibility very seriously,” Katherine B. Wilson, president and CEO, said. “We will do all we can to work with our patients whose personal information may have been compromised and help them work through the process. We regret that this incident has occurred, and we are committed to prevent future such occurrences. We appreciate our patients support during this time.”

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