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Posted On May 19, 2023 Consumer Privacy & Data Breaches

Forgotten Shredding Bins Containing Confidential Patient Records Leads to Data Breach at Northwest Health-La Porte

NOTICE: If you received a NOTICE OF DATA BREACH letter from Northwest Health-La Porte, contact the attorneys at Console & Associates at (866) 778-5500 to discuss your legal options, or submit a confidential Case Evaluation form here.

Data Breach AlertMay 19 – Northwest Health-La Porte (formerly La Porte Hospital) reported a data breach to the Office for Civil Rights of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services on May 2, 2023 after discovering that patient information had been stolen from shredder bins at an abandoned building. According to the company’s report, those actions led to the exposure of consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, demographic information, clinical information, prescription information, insurance information, hospital account numbers, medical record numbers, and billing information. Northwest Health-La Porte started mailing data breach notification letters to all people who were affected by the incident once it was confirmed that consumer data was exposed.

Data breach lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. are now investigating the attack on Northwest Health-La Porte. All those who have received a breach notice from Northwest Health-La Porte and are interested in learning more about the risks of identity theft, what they can do to protect themselves, and the legal options they may have for financial compensation can call us for a free consultation.

About Northwest Health-La Porte

Among the many medical specialties offered at Northwest Health-La Porte are surgery, obstetrics, oncology, orthopedics, and cardiology. Northwest Health-La Porte, with headquarters in LaPorte, Indiana, runs Northwest Medical Center as well as a number of outpatient rehabilitation and urgent care centers. More than 1,332 individuals are employed at Northwest Health-La Porte, and the organization brings in around $242 million each year in income.

Information About the Northwest Health-La Porte Breach

Northwest Health-La Porte discovered on March 3, 2023 that a third party had gained access to private patient information after taking records out of shredding bins at a location that was no longer in use by the company, according to the company’s filing with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights. Northwest Health-La Porte still retained several items on the premises even though it was planned for demolition, including the bins for shredding patient data. Northwest Health-La Porte was alerted to the security breach when online YouTube videos containing the patient information were released.

After learning that private patient information had fallen into the wrong hands, Northwest Health-La Porte launched a thorough investigation of the affected files to ascertain what data had been exposed and how many patients had been affected. Some examples of information that may have been compromised include names, Social Security numbers, demographic data, clinical data, prescription data, insurance data, hospital account numbers, medical record numbers, and billing information.

Data breach letters were sent out by Northwest Health-La Porte on May 2, 2023, to everyone whose personal information was exposed.

Does the Data Breach Have Financial Consequences for Northwest Health-La Porte?

A notice of a data breach from Northwest Health-La Porte indicates that some of your personal information may have been compromised. When a data breach occurs, tracking down the perpetrators may be difficult. Regardless of whether or not their identities are revealed, they aren’t necessarily the only ones to blame for the security breach. Under U.S. data breach legislation, plaintiffs may be allowed to sue the impacted corporation for compensation.

Companies like Northwest Health-La Porte have a duty to keep consumers’ private information safe, but they failed to do so in this case. Firms must exercise caution in accordance with state and federal regulations or face potential legal consequences. Under U.S. law, businesses that collect consumer information must take reasonable precautions to prevent data breaches. In the case of a breach where sensitive data is compromised, they might be held financially responsible.

If You Have Been Affected by Northwest Health-La Porte Data Breach, Console & Associates, P.C. Can Help

The consumer privacy lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. help customers affected by data and security breaches pursue legal solutions by offering free consultations. By explaining your rights in clear, concise terms, we help you make an informed decision about your next steps. If you are a victim of the Northwest Health-La Porte data breach, Console & Associates, P.C. will investigate at no charge to you and offer advice on how to proceed. If you decide to pursue a case, rest assured that we don’t get paid unless you do. If your claim is successful, legal fees are either paid out of the funds recovered or by the defendant. If your claim is not successful, you pay nothing.

To schedule your free consultation, just call (866) 778-5500 today or fill out our secure contact form.

Below is a portion of the notice posted on their website:

On March 3, 2023, Northwest Health-La Porte (formerly known as La Porte Hospital) learned that hospital records had been illegally removed from secure, locked shredding bins stored at La Porte Hospital’s old facility at 1007 Lincolnway, La Porte, Indiana. The old facility was scheduled for demolition, but not all hospital property had been removed from the site yet (including the locked bins that were storing hospital records for destruction). An unidentified person (or persons) broke into the locked shredding bins and scattered the bins’ contents on the floor, including medical records and other hospital records containing patient information. When La Porte Hospital learned about this incident on March 3, it immediately went to the old facility to retrieve the records that had been removed from the shredding bins.

La Porte Hospital learned that after the shredding bins were vandalized, a person created a video of some of the medical records that had been removed from the shredding bins, and on February 26, 2023, posted the video to his YouTube account. The hospital asked YouTube multiple times to remove the video from its site. The hospital also filed a lawsuit against this person in Indiana state court and demanded that he remove the video from YouTube.  Because the video is private, the hospital cannot confirm whether the video has been removed from this person’s YouTube account.

La Porte Hospital reported the incident to the police and opened an investigation. Both the La Porte Police Department and the Indiana Office of the Attorney General have ongoing investigations into this matter.

Most of the records that were illegally removed from the shredding bins contained patients’ first and last names, limited demographic information, medical record numbers, hospital account numbers and/or clinical information. In a limited number of cases, the records contained a patient’s Social Security number, prescription information, insurance information and/or billing information (including guarantor information). However, outside of the medical records that were videotaped, there is no evidence that anyone viewed, used or disclosed any of the patient information contained in the records that were removed from the shredding bins.

La Porte has sent letters to patients or their next of kin and offered patients a free one-year membership to Experian® IdentityWorks℠ credit monitoring service. La Porte Hospital’s investigation into this matter is ongoing.

If you have any questions or concerns about this incident, please call (888) 397-0054 toll-free Monday through Friday from 8 am – 10 pm Central, or Saturday and Sunday from 10 am – 7 pm Central (excluding major U.S. holidays). Be prepared to provide the Experian engagement number [Redacted].

NOTICE: If you received a NOTICE OF DATA BREACH letter from Northwest Health-La Porte, contact the attorneys at Console & Associates at (866) 778-5500 to discuss your legal options, or submit a confidential Case Evaluation form here.