The California Department of Health Services (CDHS) inadvertently mailed benefit notification letters to some individuals enrolled in the California AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) Director Sandra Shewry announced today.

A total of 54 letters were mailed on Feb. 27, 2007, that contained personal information of clients enrolled in the ADAP Medicare Part D Premium Payment Program. Some clients received another client's letter in error.

"On behalf of the department and our employees, I apologize for this incident," said Shewry. "The California Department of Health Services is committed to a no excuses, zero-tolerance policy regarding the release of sensitive, personal and confidential information. We are taking steps to notify you of this, consistent with our policy, and with the sensitivity around all HIV related issues," she continued.

A notification was sent today to the 54 affected ADAP clients via certified mail. Also, as per state law, the California Highway Patrol has been notified of this disclosure.

The mistakenly sent letters included individual names addresses, Medicare Part D plan names and Medicare Part D premium payment amounts. No other personal information, Social Security numbers or medical record numbers were disclosed.

"We regret that this information was handled inappropriately," Shewry said. "Our investigation will continue until we can determine all of the facts and take whatever additional preventive measures are necessary."

California law includes civil and criminal penalties for the willful, malicious or negligent disclosure of the content of HIV-related public health records.

"Our employees have been trained in the laws and procedures regarding protection of personal information. Protection of client confidentiality is a high priority for each of us. The department is taking this matter very seriously and putting additional procedures in place to prevent these types of incidents from happening in the future. Disciplinary action will be taken consistent with state law."

Gina M. Scott  |  Writer