Community Clinic Sends Pharmacy Closing Letters To Wrong Patients | News, Sports, Jobs
Malama I Ke Ola Health Center mistakenly sent letters announcing the closure of its pharmacy to the wrong people, the Maui Community Clinic announced Tuesday.
On September 21, the clinic sent out written notices to some people about the pharmacy closing. In the process of preparing the letters for sending, the names and addresses of the recipients were transposed, the clinic said. Some people received the letter, but it was addressed to another person.
After investigation, the clinic believes the problem was due to an error in the Excel spreadsheet formula that caused an incorrect mail merge.
The information inadvertently disclosed was a name, but only to another person, the clinic said. No medical information or medical diagnosis or treatment information was revealed.
The breach, however, could indicate to others that an individual is a patient of the pharmacy or clinic, which serves those without health insurance in financial need.
Malama I Ke Ola notified all concerned by mail and asked anyone who received a poorly addressed pharmacy closure letter to return or permanently destroy the letter. The clinic will also file a report with the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Health and Human Services, the agency responsible for enforcing privacy regulations, and reviews internal policies and protocols to ensure that such an incident will not happen again.
The clinic issued the press release to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA.
The information disclosed did not include any assurance or financial information, and Malama I Ke Ola said he had no reason to believe that the information of those affected would be used to cause financial harm. Nevertheless, he recommended that those concerned take the following measures:
• Examine their financial accounts for any unauthorized charges or other activity.
• Use the free credit report monitoring service administered by the Federal Trade Commission to examine their credit status and to check for new accounts that may have been opened. Go to www.ftc.gov/freereports to use this service.
• Contact their financial institution if there is unusual activity related to a financial account.
• If someone else has debited unauthorized amounts from credit accounts or opened unauthorized accounts, file an identity theft report with the police and / or report to the Federal Trade Commission at using the reporting tool on the commission’s identity theft website at www.ftc.gov / bcp / edu / microsites / idtheft /.
• Victims of identity theft may want to freeze their credit report. This can be done by submitting a written request to each of the three credit reporting agencies. Under Hawaii law, credit bureaus are not permitted to charge fees for freezing the security of the credit report of a consumer who has been the victim of identity theft. For more information on Hawaii’s laws protecting victims of identity theft, see the Attorney General’s website at http://hawaii.gov/ag/theft.
The Maui Community Clinic can be reached at 871-7772 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
The pharmacy has been closed due to low volumes, likely linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, clinic officials said.