Partners HealthCare Reveals Data Breach

The Social Security numbers, names, and diagnoses of up to 2,600 patients may have been shared.

The Massachusetts General Hospital sign

Photo by Samantha Carey

Hospitals are supposed to fix what ails you, but some Partners HealthCare patients are now dealing with a massive headache.

On Monday, the nonprofit health system, which includes Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals, announced its computer network was compromised last May, according to the Boston Business Journal. The breach may have revealed the private information—think not just Social Security numbers and names, but also the information collected by a healthcare system, such as diagnoses, medications, etc.—of as many as 2,600 patients.

Despite the information that was shared, the BBJ reports that access to Partners’ medical record system itself was not compromised. The system was able to immediately stop some of the malware, and they are providing patients whose Social Security numbers were shared access to free credit monitoring and insurance. To avoid finding itself in this situation again, Partners told the BBJ it has enhanced its security infrastructure and controls.

Partners is by far the largest employer in Massachusetts, with roughly 58,000 people on its payroll. The system is also in the late stages of a merger with Care New England Health System, the second-largest health care network in Rhode Island.

But the negotiations have not been drama-free. Brown President Christina Paxson announced last month that the Ivy League college would mount a competing bid for Care New England in conjunction with California-based Prospect Medical Holdings. Paxson wrote in a statement to the school community that a Partners-Care New England merger “would be wrong for Rhode Island and for Brown.” The acquisition would, she said, shift health care services from the Ocean State to Massachusetts, which could lead to higher care costs and a drain of medical professionals in Rhode Island.

Partners also bought a hospital in Dover, New Hampshire, at the start of 2017, and plans to acquire Massachusetts Eye and Ear, according to the Boston Globe.