Massachusetts General Hospital (“MGH”) is notifying approximately 9,900 individuals of a data breach incident involving MGH’s Department of Neurology in connection with some of its research programs.  

On June 24, 2019, MGH learned that an unauthorized third party had access to databases related to two computer applications used by researchers in the Department of Neurology for specific Neurology research studies. The investigation revealed that between June 10 and June 16, 2019 the unauthorized third party had access to databases containing research data used by certain Neurology researchers. 

The research data varied according to the specific research study and may have included a participant’s first and last name, certain demographic information (such as marital status, sex, race, ethnicity), date of birth, dates of study visits and tests, medical record number, type of study and research study identification numbers, diagnosis and medical history, biomarkers and genetic information, types of assessments and results, and other research information.

For deceased research participants, the research data included date of death, and, when available, summary autopsy results. "The research data did not include any study participant’s Social Security Number, insurance information, or any financial information. The research data did not include any study participant’s address, phone number, or other contact information. The incident did not involve MGH’s medical records systems," the press release says. 

"As soon as MGH discovered this incident, it took steps to prevent further unauthorized access and restore the affected research computer applications and databases. MGH also engaged a third-party forensic investigator to conduct a review and has contacted federal law enforcement as a precaution. MGH continues to review and enhance the security processes in place for its research programs," the press release says.