Amida Care in New York recently reported a HIPAA breach that could have impacted its 6,231 health plan members. This happened on July 25, 2017 when Amida Care sent flyers to its members who had HIV to let them know about an HIV research project. The flyers were supposed to be sent in windowless envelopes, but due to envelope printer error, windowed envelopes were used to send the flyers in time.
Amida took extra care to prevent sensitive information from becoming visible through the envelopes’ clear plastic windows. The patient’s name and address were printed on a blank sheet of paper and folded together with the flyer so that the printed information would be exactly visible through the window. Unfortunately, Amida discovered later that the words “Your HIV detecta” printed on the flyer were somewhat visible through the paper.
Knowing about this potential disclosure of sensitive information, which was actually limited only to the words “Your HIV detecta,” Amida sent notification letters to all patients who received the flyer. Amida apologized for the error and made sure it won’t happen again in the future.
This incident is the second time a breach of similar nature occurred this summer. The first incident happened when Aetna sent 12,000 mailings to its members using a third party firm. Apparently, the information of some patients regarding the prescribed HIV medications were visible through the envelopes’ plastic windows.