HIROSHIMA — Health insurance card data on five COVID-19 patients who used an overnight care facility in Hiroshima Prefecture has been accidentally leaked to outside parties, the prefectural government announced on May 30.
When a staff member of a subcontractor took pictures of the insurance card information and tried to share it with other staff via the short message service (SMS), the data was reportedly sent to a sender of a spam message. The prefecture and other related parties apologized to those involved.
According to the prefectural government, the leaked data was on five people who received medical treatment at the overnight care facility in the eastern part of the prefecture in May. The information included names, dates of birth, names of insured persons, and insurance numbers.
The error was made by a female staff member in her 50s who was subcontracted by JTB Corp.’s Hiroshima branch, to which the prefectural government outsourced the facility’s operation.
One of the two images sent on May 19 was unclear, and upon checking with another staff member who had a device to receive the images, it was discovered that they had not been sent correctly. In addition, it was later discovered that she had sent one message each day from May 12 to 14 to the wrong address.
The female staff member reportedly deleted the five sent and received records, so the wrong recipients cannot be identified. According to the prefectural government and the JTB’s Hiroshima branch, there was a rule that data should not be sent from one device to another when sharing it, but the rule was apparently not thoroughly observed.
The prefecture stated that no secondary damage had been reported. At a news conference, Jun Hiranaka, general manager of the prefectural government’s health and welfare bureau, said, “We deeply apologize to everyone concerned for the trouble and worry we have caused, and for the loss of trust in the administration.”
The prefectural government and related parties said they are committed to taking measures to prevent any similar incidents.
(Japanese original by Akari Terouchi, Hiroshima Office)