The reporter found the records on a public data tool built by the health department in October, shortly after the hepatitis records were posted. Minutes after being notified by The Inquirer of the exposed records, the department deleted them. As such, “there was no risk to confidentiality,” said Jim Garrow, health department spokesperson.
By Nat Lash
PHILADELPHIA–The Health Department’s latest Health of the City report shows declines in smoking and sweetened beverage consumption, both of which are behaviors that can lead to heart disease, Philadelphia’s leading cause of death. However, chronic diseases, the opioid epidemic, and a rising rate of gun violence continue to negatively impact the overall health of the city.
The city’s Department of Public Health produces the annual report to help officials, health-care providers, and residents better understand factors influencing health. Data come from a variety of sources, including Pennsylvania’s telephone-based population survey of behavioral risk factors.
By Marie McCullough
The difference in health between African Americans and other races is “because of poverty, lower levels of employment, and historical discrimination and lack of opportunity,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, commissioner of the city’s Department of Public Health.
“Closing the racial gap in health will require improving African-Americans’ educations, employment, and income opportunities as well as creating environments that promote healthy behaviors — such as healthy diet, physical activity, and avoidance of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.”
By John Mitchell
“We deeply regret the inadvertent exposure of personal health information on our website,” said Thomas Farley, Philadelphia’s health commissioner. “We will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident, attempt to determine if any confidential information was accessed by others, take appropriate corrective actions, and do everything we can to protect the privacy and security of personal information.”
The department did not say whether it planned to notify all whose records were exposed. A city spokesperson said they were still investigating the scope of the incident and “cannot comment on specific actions” until more is learned.
By Nathaniel Lash
Information Security Media Group
In a statement provided on Monday to Information Security Media Group, the Philadelphia department of public health says it was notified on Oct. 11 that personal health information was available for download on one of the departments webpages. “The information was removed immediately. Since that time, the health department had been working with the vendor and city officials to find out what data was potentially exposed, how many people’s records were exposed, and what actions are required be done in response to the exposure,” the statement says.
By Marianne Kolbasuk McGee