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State lawmaker calls for investigation after patient info posted on state website

Rep. Jonathan Connor, a Republican from Lewiston, calls it, “an appalling violation of trust.”
Rep. Jonathan Connor, a Republican from Lewiston, calls it, “an appalling violation of trust.”(Gray tv)
Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 6:51 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WMTW) - A state lawmaker is calling for an investigation after the personal information of patients receiving mental health services was posted on the state’s website.

An editor with the Bangor Daily News discovered the confidential information last month on the website for Maine’s office of Professional and Financial Regulation and alerted the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

A spokesperson for Maine DHHS says an “electronic system error” led to the sensitive information of roughly 20 people being posted.

Rep. Jonathan Connor, a Republican from Lewiston, calls it, “an appalling violation of trust.”

“The state was trusted with all of this confidential patient information and they broke that trust so I believe we need accountability,” said Connor.

Rep. Connor, who sits on the Health and Human Services Committee, is pushing a bill calling for an investigation.

He also wrote a letter to Attorney General Aaron Frey, asking his office to investigate.

“To see if there was anything done wrong, if there was any state laws or state statutes or federal laws, federal statutes that were broken,” Connor said.

Jackie Farwell, a spokesperson for Maine DHHS, said, “When DHHS became aware of this issue, we took immediate steps to deactivate the link to the website, remove the information, and initiate a thorough review.”

“DHHS is in the process of locating current contact information for the approximately 20 individuals directly affected,” Farwell added.

The agency says they regret what they referred to as an “isolated incident” and have added new online layers of protection.

Connor says his bill would mandate the notification of individuals impacted by a privacy breach.

“Their response was they’re not required by law to notify people and they were just doing it out of the kindness of the heart if you will. I disagree with that,” Connor said.

We reached out to the state attorney general’s office.

A spokesperson said they’re reviewing the request for an investigation and had no further comment.

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