Nine Marin Healthcare District clinics lose patient data from computer virus

Operating room of Marin Healthcare District's Sirona Vascular Center in Novato on April 29, 2014 (SIRONAVASCULAR.COM)


Marin Healthcare District said computers at its nine medical care centers were hit with a virus that holds data hostage but patient information doesn’t seem to have been exposed.

A third-party forensic firm hired to investigate the incident found no evidence that patient personal, financial or health information was accessed, viewed or transferred, according to officials.

“The privacy and confidentiality of our patient data is of utmost importance to the Marin Healthcare District,” said Lee Domanico, CEO of the district. “We sincerely regret any inconvenience this incident has caused to our patients or physicians. Our community can rest assured that the Marin Healthcare District will continue to work side by side with our vendors to ensure that all of our data is protected with today’s most advanced technology to reinforce their security systems against the most aggressive threats.”

The district received notice July 26 that computers at the company that provides the district with business and health care system services, Marin Medical Practices Concepts, Inc., were infected with a ransomware virus. It’s a computer virus that encrypts data on an infected system and demands something in exchange for unlocking the data.

Although no financial or personal patient information was found to be compromised, one of the company’s backup systems failed during the data-restoration process, the district said. So information collected at its nine medical care centers July 11–26 was lost. That includes vital signs, limited clinical history, documentation of physical examinations and any record of communication between patients and their physicians during a visit in that 15-day period. Results of diagnostic tests were not lost, and patients do not need to be re-tested.

The nine clinics affected are Cardiovascular Center of Marin, Marin Endocrine Center, Marin Internal Medicine, North Bay Urology, North Marin Internal Medicine, San Rafael Medical Center, Sirona Vascular Center, Tamalpais Internal Medicine and West Marin Medical Center. The district also owns Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae.

The district is mailing letters to potentially affected patients and has established a dedicated call center to address questions or concerns. Those who believe they may be affected by this incident but have not received a letter by Oct. 1 are encouraged to call 844-607-1698 Monday–Friday, 6 a.m.–6 p.m.