April 2022 Healthcare Breach Report

Each month, we review healthcare breaches to determine the leading cause and how the incidents could have been prevented. We do so by examining the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) online breach portal. The OCR publicly posts healthcare breaches that affected 500 or more patients to ensure that all affected patients know their information could have been potentially compromised.

A shower of breaches stormed through patients’ protected health information (PHI). In April 2022, there were 44 large-scale breaches reported involving 1,612,672 patients’ data. Most April 2022 healthcare breaches affected healthcare providers, with 29 incidents. These 29 incidents compromised the PHI of 1,496,278 individuals, representing nearly 93% of patients affected by the April incidents. 

Business associates reported 10 additional incidents. Business associate incidents affected 23,324 patients, representing just over one percent of patients affected. 

Five health plans also reported incidents affecting 93,061 patients and representing 5.8% of affected patients. In April, 40 incidents resulted from hacking incidents and unauthorized access or disclosure of PHI. There were two incidents involving theft, one resulting from loss, and one resulting from the improper disposal of PHI.

April 2022 Healthcare Breaches and Hacking

Hacking continued its streak at the top of the list of causes of healthcare breaches in April 2022. There were 29 hacking incidents reported in April that affected more than one and a half million patients. These 29 incidents represented 96% of the breached records reported during the month.

Entities affected by hacking:

  • 23 healthcare providers, 1,449,512 patients, 93.5% of patients affected by hacking
  • 4 business associates, 10,526 patients, 0.7% of patients affected by hacking
  • 2 health plans, 90,830 patients, 5.8% of patients affected by hacking

Types of hacking incidents:

  • 12 network server hacks,1,144,699 patients, 73.8% of patients affected by hacking
  • 13 email hacks, 297,136 patients, 19.2% of patients affected by hacking
  • 2 other, 55,004 patients, 3.6% of patients affected by hacking
  • 1 electronic medical record and other, 297,136 patients, 1.9% of patients affected by hacking
  • 1 network server and other, 24,029 patients, 1.5% of patients affected by hacking

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How to Prevent Hacking Incidents

As hacking incidents have become the leading cause behind healthcare breaches for several years, minimizing your risk of being targeted is crucial.

Security Risk Assessments and Remediation

Security risk assessments (SRAs) are vital for security and compliance. The purpose of an SRA is to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in your security practices to prepare yourself against potential threats. Once SRAs have been conducted, it is essential to create remediation plans to address any identified deficiencies.

Employee Cybersecurity Training

A significant portion of hacking incidents results from phishing emails. This is why employee cybersecurity training is essential to your organization’s overall security posture. Employees should be trained on recognizing phishing attempts and what to do if they suspect an incident has occurred.

April 2022 Healthcare Breaches and Unauthorized Access or Disclosure

Incidents of unauthorized access or disclosures of PHI can occur in two ways – an authorized employee accesses PHI inappropriately, or a