AR Briefly

Fired Arkansas Human Services worker mishandled Medicaid clients’ personal information

By: - November 16, 2022 1:35 pm

The Arkansas Department of Human Services building on Main Street in downtown Little Rock. John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate

An Arkansas Department of Human Services employee used her personal email account to handle protected information about Medicaid recipients, according to the agency.

The mishandled information included beneficiaries’ ID numbers, dates of birth, gender information, location data and flu diagnoses of 925 individuals, according to a news release.

The breached data did not include names, Social Security numbers, financial information or the clients’ full addresses.

DHS officials are notifying the affected Medicaid clients of the breach by mail, according to an announcement from the agency on Wednesday.

The department became aware in mid-September that the employee sent personal information about Medicaid beneficiaries from her state email to her Yahoo account.

DHS trains employees against using personal email to handle HIPAA-protected information, and a DHS spokesman confirmed that the employee was fired over the breach.

“The attachments consisted of Excel spreadsheets used to notify the Department of Health of the number of Medicaid clients who had been diagnosed with the flu,” a DHS news release stated.

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Hunter Field, Arkansas Advocate
Hunter Field, Arkansas Advocate

Hunter Field is a veteran Arkansas journalist whose reporting on the state has carried him from military air strips in northwest Arkansas to soybean fields in the Arkansas delta. He spent the better part of the last decade investigating and reporting on Arkansas government and politics. For three years, he covered education policy, medical marijuana and the Arkansas General Assembly as part of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Capitol Bureau. Most recently, he was the Democrat-Gazette's projects editor, leading the newspaper's investigative team. Hunter got his start in journalism covering sports for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. A Memphis native, he enjoys smoking barbecue, kayaking and fishing in his free time.