RIDOH Advising the Public of Unintended Information Release
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising the public of a recent data breach of protected health information.
Between July 28, 2022, and October 20, 2022, a link to a spreadsheet was accidentally included in emails sent by RIDOH staff. The file contained information about people receiving food box deliveries while in COVID-19 isolation or quarantine. This file contained information for approximately 8,800 people. The people listed in this spreadsheet are being notified directly of this breach through postal mail. Anyone who was impacted by this breach will receive a letter from RIDOH by December 20.
To RIDOH’s knowledge, this file was inadvertently emailed to 46 people, all of whom were on the list to receive food box services. RIDOH is not aware, at this time, of any security concerns related to this breach. No medical information or financial information was included in the breach. (The spreadsheet is considered protected health information because it indicated that people were in COVID-19 isolation or quarantine.) The information in the spreadsheet included:
- Date of contact by RIDOH.
- First, middle, and last name.
- Phone number.
- Street address, apt., city, and ZIP code.
- The person’s specific needs, such as food, cleaning supplies, and personal protective equipment.
- Household information, such as the number of children and adults in the household.
- Delivery information, such as whether contact was made and the delivery date.
- Additional notes (for example, if a person required gluten-free food).
RIDOH began investigating this breach as soon as it was discovered. The investigation has included:
- Immediately conducting extensive email searches to determine how widely the link to the file had been shared;
- Immediately restricting access to the file; and
- Identifying additional steps to prevent unintended release of information in the future, including additional trainings for staff and enhanced security measures for the handling of sensitive information.
RIDOH formed a Support Team to respond to inquiries about this issue. To inquire if your information was included in this breach, you can contact RIDOH’s Support Team on or after December 12, 2022, at 844-930-1780, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.