If you have been contacted as a possible victim of this privacy breach, please contact us at newstips@ksdk.com.

ST. LOUIS - SSM Health recently discovered a former employee inappropriately accessed medical records of SSM Health patients between Feb. 13 and Oct. 20, while he was employed in the customer service call center.

The incident constitutes a privacy breach under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), SSM Health said in a press release.

The employee had access to protected health information, including demographic and various types of clinical information. He did not have access to any financial information, SSM Health said. The employee's name has not been released.

SSM launched an extensive internal investigation on Oct. 30 after learning of the incident.

“Consequently, it appears that although the former employee accessed patient information from multiple states, the focus of his illegal activities involved the medical records of a small number of patients with a controlled substance prescription and a primary care physician within the St. Louis area. Out of an abundance of caution, SSM Health, is notifying all 29,000 patients whose records were accessed by this individual, even if the access may have been for legitimate job functions. SSM Health has also reported the incident to the Office for Civil Rights and local law enforcement,” SSM Health said in a press release.

SSM Health has taken immediate corrective actions, including requiring an additional identified when patients request prescription refills from the call center, thoroughly reviewing internal policies and procedures, and further strengthening employee access monitoring tools. SSM Health will also provide identify theft protection at no charge to affected patients upon their request.

“We take very seriously our role of safeguarding our patients' personal information, and we deeply regret any inconvenience or concern this situation may have caused our patients,” said Scott Didion, System Privacy Officer, SSM Health.

Patients who feel they may have been impacted should contact 1-888-710-9205.