Community Health Systems Data Breach Settlement Agreed

February 9, 2019


Patients of Community Health Systems’ (CHS), who had their protected health information (PHI) unlawfully obtained in a  hacking attack in 2014 have been offered reimbursement in relation to the breach of their Private Health Information (PHI).

Tennessee-based Community Health Systems administers over 200 hospitals, meaning it is one of the largest healthcare systems in the United States.

In 2014, CHS noted that malware had been downloaded to its network. The malware allowed illegal actors to get access to patient information between April and June 2014. The cyberattack is supposed to have been carried out by hackers located in China.

An advanced malware variation was wielded in the attack, which had the only aim of getting confidential information. An inquiry into the breach disclosed that that patient data including names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers had been obtained. The PHI of 4.5 million patients was stolen by hackers.

When it happened it was the biggest healthcare data breach to be submitted to the Division of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights and still rates as among the top six healthcare data breaches ever.

In the repercussion of the breach, several legal actions were filed by patients seeking recompense for the theft of their private information. The litigations were joined together into single litigation, which survived attempts by CHS to have the case struck out. A settlement has now been reached to settle the legal action.

The settlement states that two different payments for breach sufferers will be paid out. Those who can prove they have incurred out-of-pocket expenses because of the breach and/or can show proof of time lost securing their accounts, can claim up to $250 in recompense. People who have been impacted by identity theft or scam as a consequence of the breach can recover up to $5,000 in losses.

Legal fees adding up to $900,000 have also been included in the settlement agreement together with a payment of $3,500 for each representative class member.

To be eligible for payment, a compensation claim should be filed by August 1, 2019. People who don’t desire to be included in the settlement and those who would like to submit an objection, have until May, 18 to contact CHS.

The settlement should still be reviewed for fairness and approved by a judge. A hearing has been planned to take place on August 13, 2019.