March 28, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
According to a report released by the Ohio Inspector General’s Office Thursday afternoon, an Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OBWC) employee in the Portsmouth Office wrongfully accessed records containing confidential personal information of 402 claimants.
The report states that on August 9 the Office of the Ohio Inspector General received a complaint forwarded by the OBWC, Special Investigations Department regarding an employee in the OBWC Portsmouth Service Office.
The complaint alleged Claims Services Specialist Lisa Anderson has accessed several claimant files which were not assigned to her, containing confidential personal information.
The report states, OBWC’s Digital Forensic Unit found Anderson accessed her boyfriend’s claim 129 times on 34 separate days between May 3, 2012 and August 2, 2012 and accessed claim files of a female with the same last name as the boyfriend’s claim on 18 occasions on four separate days. The report later identifies this person as her boyfriend’s former wife.
Additionally, confidential personal information reports showed Anderson had accessed 402 injured worker claims not assigned to her during the period of May 1, 2012 through August 2, 2012.
The report further states, Anderson has worked for the OBWC since 1994 and was responsible for processing and managing injured worker claims in addition to process claims related to an assigned list of employees.
In her defense, Anderson stated within the report that there were occasions when other claims service specialists were out of the office and it was necessary for her to access claimants’ records that were not specifically assigned to her.
She said with in the report that occasionally this was done at the request of a supervisor to access claimants’ records for absent coworkers. Anderson said in the report she usually would make notes in the claimants’ files that she accessed, however, there were times when multiple incoming calls prevented her from entering the necessary notes.
According to the report, Anderson admitted accessing the injured worker claims to see how particular issues were resolved, and accessing the claims to respond to phone calls. Anderson indicated she did not make modifications to the claims and did not log access of the 402 claims.
Within the report, the Inspector General makes four recommendations for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to respond to within 60 days, along with a plan on how the recommendations should be implemented.
The recommendations include a review of each of the 402 case files accessed by Anderson and also a review of the conduct of Anderson and determine whether administrative action or discipline is warranted.
Also among the recommendations was a revisiting of policy to see if changes are necessary to manage the safeguarding of personal confidential information of OBWC claimants. The Inspector General also recommended refresher trainings for OBWC employees accessing personal information to ensure they understand when accessing a claim file is permissible, logging access is required.
John Haas, city of Portsmouth Solicitor said he is taking the report under advisement for further consideration.
According to Melissa Vince, Spokeswoman for OBWC, Anderson is still employed with OBWC in the same position.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.