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Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness experiences data breach in medical records

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – The Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness Department reported that there was a breach in its medical record system that occurred at the end of March, but no information was downloaded or printed.

"We regret that this incident occurred," said Behavioral Wellness Director Toni Navarro. "While an event like this should never have occurred, through this investigation, we have identified areas for strengthening our system and are making necessary improvements to avoid the likelihood of this occurring again."

The department found out that a staff member used their credentials to log into the electronic medical record system and viewed client information on March 30, but an audit of the incident showed that no information was downloaded or printed, according to Behavioral Wellness spokeswoman Suzanne Grimmesey.

The breach included names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, social security numbers, insurance information, medical record numbers, and some medical information being compromised for affected clients, Grimmesey said, adding that all clients with compromised information have been notified.

"This breach was discovered as a result of the department proactively implementing a new security measure which immediately worked to call attention to this breach and will continue to serve this function going forward," Grimmesey said.

After the department discovered the breach, further access to client records was terminated and the department implemented "all required and appropriate actions" to the employee who accessed the records.

Grimmesey said that ongoing audits will continue to occur on a regular basis for the investigation to ensure that department staff are not accessing patient information outside of their scope of duties.

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Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Jade Martinez-Pogue

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