Stanford Hospital patient records exposed on homework help site

Medical records for 20,000 emergency room patients at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., were exposed on a homework help website for almost a year before being discovered in August, the New York Times reports.

Hospital officials are investigating how the spreadsheet containing the records, that included patient names and diagnosis codes, got from billing contractor Multi-Specialty Collection Services to the website Student of Fortune, which offers homework help for a price, the Times reported.

The information, which has been removed, was used in an example of how to convert spreadsheet data into a bar graph, according to the story.

The breach is considered unusual because of the length of time the data was exposed. In May, the Interior Department’s National Business Center reported that personal information of 4,000 Securities and Exchange Commission employees was exposed for 60 seconds in an unencrypted e-mail message sent by a contractor.

Although the data was exposed only for the roughly one minute the e-mail message was in transit, an Interior spokesman said, “60 seconds is too long.”

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