Patient privacy laws have been a significant area of focus during the past few years, and the latest data breach impacted Sea Mar Community Health Centers, which is based in Seattle. In 2021, the hospital was hit by a data breach that impacted close to 700,000 patients. Now, the popular hospital system is facing a potential class-action lawsuit related to its handling of that specific data breach.
Allegations made in the lawsuit against Sea Mar Community Health Centers claim that the health system was negligent in its inability to protect its patients from having their private information stolen.
Sea Mar Community Health Centers discovered the data breach in June 2021. Professionals working for the hospital system determined that criminals had accessed the data center between December 2020 and March 2021, proceeding to copy all of the data they came across. A lot of criminals like to steal information from hospitals because hospitals collect personal information including bank account numbers, credit card numbers, phone numbers, social security numbers, birthdays, addresses, and other examples of sensitive information they might use to commit identity theft.
HIPAA, which is the main patient privacy Law, requires all Hospital Systems, including Sea Mar Community Health Centers, to notify any victims of a data breach within 60 days of what happened. According to the lawsuit, Sea Mar Community Health Centers failed to meet that standard. Some patients had to wait 10 months after the data breach to hear that their personal information had been stolen.
Furthermore, the lawsuit against Sea Mar Community Health Centers seeks to shed more light on the data breach. The plaintiffs want to know what information was stolen, how they were able to access this information, and what the impacts of this theft might be. The lawsuit also alleges that if the hospital system had better safeguards and data protection in place, including proper encryption, all of this could have been avoided.
It will be interesting to see what type of impact this has on hospital systems, which are supposed to follow all regulations in HIPAA. The Sea Mar Community Health Centers data breach has impacted hundreds of thousands of people who are concerned that criminals might use their information for nefarious purposes.