Cancer-care giant notifies 2.2 M patients of data breach

A US-based cancer-care giant now faces a major data breach. Fort-Myers’ 21st Century Oncology warns its 2.2 million patients of their personal data being accessed by an unauthorized third party.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had notified the company on November 13 of the unauthorized access of its database.

According to the company, names of patients, social security numbers, physician names, diagnosis and treatment data and insurance information have been accessed. In a statement issued, 21st Century Oncology also informed of hiring a leading forensics firm to conduct an investigation. The company however denied the access of any medical records.

"We immediately hired a leading forensics firm to support our investigation, assess our systems and bolster security," the statement said. "In addition to security measures already in place, we have also taken additional steps to enhance internal security protocols to help prevent a similar incident in the future."

Patients have been sent notification letters to advise them of the breach of their data.

The potentially affected have been offered a year of credit monitoring services without charge.

"We also recommend that patients regularly review the explanation of benefits that they receive from their health insurer," the letter to patients states. "If they see services that they did not receive, please contact the insurer immediately."

News of the breach came at the backdrop of 2 recent people relations blows for the company. The company paid a $34.6 million settlement to the federal government to settle a lawsuit that alleged the company performed and billed for a procedure that was not medically necessary.

In December, it paid $19.75 million to settle another lawsuit from a whistleblower action related to claims of inappropriate billing for bladder cancer examinations.

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