Half a Million Patients Exposed in North Kansas Hospital Vendor Breach
Table of Contents
- By Steven
- Jan 05, 2024
The North Kansas City Hospital (NKCH) is just north of the Missouri River in North Kansas City, Missouri. The hospital boasts a considerable campus with 450 beds and over 100 more physicians. They provide nearly 50 medical specialties, including cancer, oncology, cardiology, women’s, and emergency care programs. The facility has served patients in the area for over 60 years; however, their recent breach may cause patients to receive care elsewhere.
How Did the Attack Occur?
NKCH and its subsidiary, the Meritas Health Corporation, used Perry Johnson & Associates (PJ&A) as a medical transcription service vendor. PJ&A served many healthcare providers and their patients, including Chicago’s Cook County. PJ&A’s breach came from an unauthorized party extracting files from their systems—but how the assailants did this is unclear. The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed a 9-million patient record breach from PJ&A’s event weeks ago; the data stolen from NKCH, Meritas Health, and the Clay County Public Health Center add a further 502,438 to the toll.
What Information Was Viewed or Stolen?
The data notice posted on NKCH’s website indicates that the stolen data may involve patient’s demographics, contact information, birthday, health insurance information, and some clinical data. Social Security Numbers are not exposed in the event, however. Those with data exposed as a result of this breach may face a future of online impersonation and fraud. Cybercriminals can use stolen credentials to commit other crimes, like profiteering or extortion. Thus, patients must take defensive action to avoid further victimization.
How Did North Kansas City Hospital Admit to the Breach?
PJ&A’s website notice suggests the unauthorized actor accessed their systems from March 27th to May 2nd, 2023. Around May 2nd, PJ&A noticed and began systematically responding to the network threat. Over two months later, around July 21st, PJ&A notified NKCH of the event. The internal investigations launched after that concluded around November 7th. NKCH and officials have worked since then to notify the appropriate parties, including victims, affiliates, and the Department of Health.
What Will Become of the Stolen Information?
Although the breach occurred months ago, there is still time for patients to change the event’s outcome. If they take no action, they allow criminals to have free reign over their accounts, especially their identity; this can result in data owners getting blamed for crimes they didn’t commit. Warrants and appearance orders can be issued in their name, impacting their custody agreements, career, court history, and future.
What Should Affected Parties Do in the Aftermath of the Breach?
NKCH has presumably distributed consumer notices, but they may take a few weeks to arrive in the mail. Patients can wait for their notice to establish a credit freeze and fraud alert through the three credit bureaus; however, this won’t protect their data from further victimization. They’ll need more security.
First, patients must secure their accounts. They can change their passwords and any associated contact data with their profiles. Accounts with multi-factor authorization options must enable those features wherever possible. Patients should also order statements from their providers with itemized lists; this is the best way to determine medical fraud. Otherwise, accounts that cannot change the data (like date of birth and other permanent credentials) should invest in account monitoring services. Professionals can alert victims of activity in their accounts and recommend solutions for mitigation and recovery. Patients shouldn’t wait for their notice to start protecting their data—they can start right now.