Otolaryngology Associates of Central Jersey is making contact with patients to advise them of breach of their protected health information, following a theft at an off-site storage service in East Brunswick, NJ.
The thieves removed thirteen boxes of paper medical records from the service, which included data like names, addresses, health insurance account numbers, birth dates, dates of military duty served, and the names of treating physicians. A small number of driver’s license numbers and Social Security numbers were among the stolen records.
The theft was quickly spotted and law enforcement was alerted. An internal inquiry was begun, and steps were taken to reduce the potential for similar breaches to occur in the future.
The medical records were being stored at the service in compliance with state and federal laws, and related to past patients that had been given treatment at either of Otolaryngology Associates of Central Jersey’s two facilities in East Brunswick and Franklin townships. All affected patients have now been made aware of the breach.
While the thieves in most burglaries are never caught, a suspect is now in the custody of law enforcement. That individual, Fernando Rios, 33, of Sayreville, was apprehended in connection with the burglary after police received a tip off after Rios attempted to sell the details. The person who Rios tried to sell the records to contacted the U.S Department of Homeland Security and the records were handed over.
Since the stolen records were promptly rescued, Otolaryngology Associates of Central Jersey think the chance of patient data being used inappropriately is not high.
Rios face charges of second degree trafficking in personally identifiable information, second degree identity theft, and third-degree burglary. Rios could be handed a minimum jail term of five years.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights has been made aware of the incident, but the details of it have yet to appear on the OCR breach portal. Mycentraljersey.com is reporting that the boxes of files contained around 1,000 patient records.