You are here

Privacy Incident at McLean Hospital’s Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center

July 28, 2015 Print

McLean Hospital (McLean) is deeply committed to protecting the security and confidentiality of all of the sensitive information that we gather and maintain as part of our research programs. Regrettably, this notice concerns an incident involving some of that information. Please note that the incident did not involve any patient information from McLean’s medical records system.

On May 29, 2015, we learned that four backup data tapes related to the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center (HBTRC) at McLean were missing. We immediately began an investigation and also conducted a thorough search of our facilities in an effort to locate the tapes. Our investigation determined that the backup data tapes, which were unencrypted, contained information on a limited number of individuals associated with the HBTRC in various capacities, including deceased tissue donors, individuals who registered as potential donors, and, in some instances, their family members. The information contained on the tapes included names, dates of birth, diagnoses, and, in some cases, Social Security numbers.

McLean is committed to the security of all of the sensitive information that it maintains and is taking this matter very seriously. The hospital immediately took action to help prevent an incident like this from occurring again. McLean has implemented new procedures relating to the security of its HBTRC research backup tapes, including encryption of all new HBTRC backup tapes going forward and enhancements to its process for the handling and storage of HBTRC backup data tapes.

Although to date, we have been unable to locate the missing backup data tapes, we have no reason to believe that any of the information on the tapes has been accessed or used inappropriately. It would take specialized software, equipment, and technical expertise in order to access the information on the tapes. However, as a precaution, we began mailing letters to affected individuals on July 28, 2015, and we have established a dedicated call center to answer any questions they may have. If you believe you are affected but do not receive a letter by August 15, 2015, please call 1.877.238.2074, Monday through Friday, between 9:00 am and 7:00 pm Eastern Time (Closed on US observed holidays). Please be prepared to provide the following ten digit reference number when calling: 3249072215.