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Quest Diagnostics says 11.9 million patients’ financial and medical information may have been exposed in data breach


  • Quest Diagnostics says a data breach may have exposed the information of 11.9 million patients.
  • American Medical Collection Agency, a billing collections service provider, informed Quest of the breach.
  • AMCA said personal, financial and medical information may have been accessed.

About 11.9 million Quest Diagnostics patients may have had their financial, medical and other personal information exposed in a data breach, the company said Monday.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Quest said a billing collections vendor, American Medical Collection Agency, notified it last month of potential unauthorized activity on AMCA’s web payment page. AMCA provides billing collections services to Optum360, which is a Quest contractor. An unauthorized user had access to the system between Aug. 1, 2018, and March 30, 2019, Quest said.

The system contained sensitive data, including credit card numbers, bank account information, medical information and Social Security numbers, Quest said. Lab results were not provided to AMCA and were not exposed in the breach. AMCA thinks 11.9 million Quest patients were affected as of May 31, 2019, Quest said.

AMCA has not yet provided Quest with complete or detailed information about the breach and it has not been able to verify the accuracy of the information, Quest said.

“Quest is taking this matter very seriously and is committed to the privacy and security of our patients’ personal information,” the company said in a press release. “Since learning of the AMCA data security incident, we have suspended sending collection requests to AMCA.” Quest and Optum360 are investigating the situation with forensic experts, Quest said.

ACMA in a statement to CNBC said it’s “investigating a data incident involving an unauthorized user” accessing its system. The company said that after a security compliance firm that works with credit card companies alerted ACMA of a possible security compromise, ACMA conducted an internal review and took down its web payments page.

ACMA said it hired a third-party external forensics firm to investigate, migrated its web payments portal services to a third-party vendor, and hired more experts to advise and implement steps to increase its systems’ security. The company said it also advised law enforcement of the incident.

The company added, “We remain committed to our system’s security, data privacy, and the protection of personal information.”

3/28/19 - North Carolina, The Daily Tar Heel

Medical marijuana could be legalized in North Carolina under this new bill

The N.C. House of Representatives filed a bill earlier this month to legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina. 

The proposed bill, House Bill 401, would create the Medical Cannabis Act, which would protect patients with a registry identification card with “debilitating medical conditions and their physicians and caregivers, from arrest and prosecution." Citing the fact that research has found beneficial uses for cannabis, the act would also allow its medical use "in a regulated system for alleviating symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions and their medical treatments."

The Institute of Cannabis Research at Colorado State University at Pueblo performed a detailed study on the economic and social impacts of marijuana legalization in Pueblo County, Colo. and found that the marijuana industry can have positive effects on income inequality, among other things.

“Educational achievement in Pueblo still lags behind the rest of Colorado. To address that deficit, Pueblo County has instituted what appears to be the world’s first cannabis tax-funded college scholarship program,” the study said. 

The study found possible correlations between strict marijuana laws and homelessness. The study said homelessness among military veterans has been decreasing across the country but increasing in Colorado, which “may in part be due to veterans who are migrating to obtain legal cannabis (e.g. for treatment for PTSD).”

3/30/19   "Drivers must register with new drug, alcohol clearinghouse"  Trucker News

The federal CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, which will be a database of truck drivers who have failed or refused a drug or alcohol test, takes effect in January 2020, and drivers intending to transition to new jobs or ensure a clean record within the clearinghouse will need to register as users.

Joe DeLorenzo, director of enforcement and compliance of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, spoke Thursday at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky.

The clearinghouse will record all drug test failures conducted for pre-employment screenings, random drug tests, and post-crash tests, said DeLorenzo. Carriers will be required to submit failed tests to the clearinghouse, and they’ll be required to query the database before hiring drivers to ensure they haven’t failed a drug test in the previous three years.

The onus will be on drivers to register within the Clearinghouse so that they can consent to allow carriers to query the database for their records, said DeLorenzo. Registration is slated to begin in October, he said, and it is required for any driver looking to a new driving job in January 2020 and later.

Though registration and consent to queries are only required when a driver is beginning a new job, DeLorenzo encouraged all drivers and owner-operators to register as users to ensure their testing information is accurate. Also included in the Clearinghouse will be whether drivers completed the return-to-duty process if they have failed a drug test.

Only positive tests will be filed to the clearinghouse, and no information will be available about negative tests, he said. But should any inaccurate information be uploaded to the Clearinghouse, registered users will know and can file a DataQ request to correct it.


12/21/18 "Why drug testing at work 'is the new don’t ask, don’t tell."  The Washington Post

By Jena McGregor

One of the largest U.S. drug-testing laboratories has analyzed its millions of urine drug test results by industry for the first time, and found the two industries with the highest rate of positive test results for marijuana were also two that have to deal with consumers.

Some 5.3 percent of tests given to retail trade workers, and 4.7 percent of those given to health care and social assistance workers came back positive, according to an analysis by Quest Diagnostics.

The analysis, which comes from examining more than 10 million test results that are part of the lab company’s Drug Testing Index, found that five of 16 industries saw double-digit increases in the rate of positive test results between 2015 and 2017.

They included not only retail but transportation and warehousing, finance and insurance and wholesale trade, showing an increase in positive test results at a time when more states are loosening restrictions on pot use and more companies are said to be loosening drug testing restrictions amid low unemployment.

Barry Sample, the senior director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions, said the results of the new analysis did not surprise him.

“We’ve been reporting year-over-year increases of the positivity rates for almost all three of these illicit drug classes,” he said, referring to marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines. “As we break it out by industry we’re seeing a number of industries with those same results.”

[Legalizing marijuana is now one of Cuomo's priorities. He's been resisting it for years.]

Still, the rate of growth stood out. The retail industry, for instance, saw a 43 percent increase in positive test results for cocaine between 2015 and 2017, Quest’s analysis showed. And eight sectors saw at least 20 percent increases in positive marijuana test results over the same period, as more states loosened laws restricting the drug.

“Clearly I think that there are likely some attitudinal changes with respect to marijuana, which may be driving some of the increases we’re seeing,” he said.

Sample said, however, that it would be a mistake to attribute the rise entirely to statute changes. Even in states with relaxed laws, he said, the rate of of change in positive test results was often on par with the national average.

Before movie-driven images of a stoned store clerk come to mind, it’s important to note such data doesn’t necessarily measure current impairment. The test results measure use of the drug, not necessarily use of the drug at work, and with pot, in particular, the drug’s byproducts can stay in a person’s system and be detected even weeks after use.

But some labor lawyers say the legalization of marijuana use -- 10 states and Washington D.C. allow for recreational use of pot, while 33 states and D.C. have legalized it for medical use -- is having a big effect on how employers view employee use of the drug.

"What I see employers doing is evaluating the positions, asking ‘is this really a safety-sensitive position?’ " said Erin McLaughlin, a labor and employment lawyer with Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney based in Pittsburgh. "If it’s not, then there are more employers who are taking the position ‘let’s not test for marijuana.’ "

She believes the tight labor market is also clearly playing a role. “Absolutely, I think in positions where there is a labor shortage right now and employers are looking for candidates for jobs that don’t have safety-sensitive issues or aren’t federally regulated [to require testing], I definitely think employers are eliminating drug testing as a whole when it comes to hiring applicants,” she said.

She pointed to the construction industry, where there are big labor shortages, and said she’d seen it with some retail clients. “Quite frankly, for jobs like a cashier, a sales associate -- many of them don’t do drug testing at all, especially considering the labor shortage.”



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