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Ten examples of how inadequate employee training can lead to data breach of ePHI

Ten examples of how inadequate employee training can lead to data breach of ePHI

Ten examples of how inadequate employee training can lead to data breach of ePHI

Electronic protected health information (ePHI) data breaches frequently result from inadequate staff training. Clinicians, office workers, and IT specialists all need to receive the appropriate training in order to understand and respond to the different security risks and vulnerabilities that might result in unauthorized access to or exposure to ePHI. For healthcare firms to remain Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant, safeguard patient privacy, and preserve their reputation, thorough employee training programs are crucial.

A variety of subjects should be covered in training programs, from comprehending the significance of ePHI and the necessity of HIPAA compliance to identifying typical risks and putting in place efficient security measures. Employees must be given the skills and resources needed to protect private patient data and stay clear of careless or malicious behaviors that might lead to data breaches. Healthcare businesses may considerably lower the risk of ePHI breaches and maintain a solid security posture by investing in employee training.

Here are ten examples of how inadequate employee training can cause data breaches of ePHI:

  1. Phishing attacks:

    Untrained employees may be more susceptible to falling for phishing emails, which can lead to unauthorized access to ePHI.

  2. Weak passwords:

    Employees who are not trained in creating and using strong passwords may inadvertently allow unauthorized access to ePHI.

  3. Unauthorized sharing of ePHI:

    Staff members who are not aware of the proper procedures for sharing ePHI may accidentally disclose sensitive patient data to unauthorized individuals.

  4. Insecure disposal of devices or media:

    Employees who are not trained on proper disposal methods may inadvertently expose ePHI stored on devices or media.

  5. Social engineering:

    Untrained employees may be more vulnerable to social engineering attacks, in which an attacker manipulates the employee into revealing sensitive information.

  6. Misconfigured systems:

    Staff members without proper training may inadvertently misconfigure systems or applications, potentially exposing ePHI.

  7. Unpatched software:

    Employees who do not understand the importance of regular software updates may fail to patch systems, leaving them vulnerable to known security vulnerabilities. Follow this link to know how DP Tech Group can help you deal with unsecured/unpatched software.

  8. Insecure use of mobile devices:

    Staff members who are not trained on securing mobile devices may inadvertently expose ePHI through the loss, theft, or misuse of these devices.

  9. Insider threats:

    Untrained employees may be more likely to engage in actions that compromise ePHI, either intentionally or accidentally.

  10. Inadequate incident response:

    Employees who are not trained on how to respond to security incidents may fail to detect or appropriately respond to data breaches, increasing the potential damage caused by the breach.

Real-world examples of data breaches caused by Untrained employees

Data breaches involving electronic protected health information (ePHI) and HIPAA compliance violations are frequently caused by inadequate staff training. Maintaining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI depends heavily on ensuring that healthcare staff members are educated to understand and respond to a variety of security risks and vulnerabilities. Comprehensive training programs are necessary to secure sensitive patient data as well as to prevent the financial fines, legal obligations, and reputational harm that non-compliance brings with it. The firm may foster a culture of security awareness and dedication to patient privacy by investing in personnel training. Employee awareness and training are covered extensively under Security Risk Assessment (SRA).

Here are five real-world examples of cases in the USA where data breaches of ePHI occurred due to untrained employees:

  1. Anchorage Community Mental Health Services (2014): After a data breach that affected over 2,700 patients, an Alaskan provider of mental health services consented to pay a $150,000 fine to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The breach was brought about by malware that took advantage of unpatched software, and the OCR investigation exposed insufficient systems for risk management and personnel training.
  2. St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center (2015): The Massachusetts-based medical center settled with the OCR for $218,400 after an investigation into two incidents. One incident involved employees using an internet-based document-sharing application to store ePHI without authorization. The other case involved a stolen unencrypted laptop, which exposed the ePHI of nearly 500 individuals. In both cases, inadequate employee training contributed to the incidents.
  3. Metro Community Provider Network (2017): This Colorado-based healthcare provider agreed to pay a $400,000 fine after a phishing attack compromised the ePHI of 3,200 patients. The OCR investigation found that the organization had not provided adequate security awareness training to its employees.
  4. Fresenius Medical Care North America (2018): The largest provider of dialysis services in the U.S. settled with the OCR for $3.5 million after a series of data breaches. In one of the incidents, an unencrypted USB drive containing ePHI was stolen from an employee’s car. The investigation found that the organization had insufficient risk analysis and employee training programs in place.
  5. Pagosa Springs Medical Center (2018): This Colorado-based medical center agreed to pay a $111,400 fine after an OCR investigation found that a former employee still had remote access to ePHI even after their employment had ended. The investigation revealed inadequate employee training and security risk management practices.

To know more about Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), follow the link.


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