Patient data security breach prompts $4.9B lawsuit

Following a data security breach in September, a $4.9 billion class-action lawsuit has been filed against Tricare, the health insurance carrier for the U.S. military; the Department of Defense (DoD); and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, according to a story in Health Data Management.

The suit was filed October 10 on behalf of 4.9 million people affected by the breach and seeks $1,000 for each affected individual. It accuses Tricare, the DoD, and Panetta of violating the U.S. Administrative Procedures Act and the Privacy Act of 1974.

On September 13, backup tapes containing information on patients treated in San Antonio military facilities between 1992 and September 7, 2011, were stolen from the back seat of a car driven by an employee of Science Applications International, a Tricare contractor. Information on the tapes included names, addresses, phone numbers, clinical notes, laboratory tests, prescriptions, and Social Security numbers.

Plaintiffs in the case are Virginia Gaffney of Hampton, VA, a Tricare beneficiary described as the spouse of a decorated war veteran; her two dependent children; and Adrienne Taylor of Glendale, AZ, an Air Force Operation Desert Storm veteran who also is a military spouse and Tricare beneficiary.

In addition to medical benefits, Tricare provides dental benefits to 2 million military members, retirees, reservists, and their families through a contract with Metropolitan Life Insurance.

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