Thursday, June 14, 2012

Medical Data Breaches Increase

As more medical records go digital, the size and frequency of data breaches are increasing.  

Public health officials and privacy advocates are becoming more alarmed; keeping records secure and safe is starting to become a real challenge. 

In an article from The Washington Post, two recent incidents at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. have shown how many people can be affected by inadequate data security.  

Earlier in May, federal prosecutors charged a hospital employee with violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The employee used her position to gain access to patient’s health information, including their names, Medicare numbers, and addresses. She then sold the information outside of work. 

Before that incident took place, the same hospital had to contact more than 34,000 patients that their medical information had been compromised.  

A contractor working for the hospital had put information on a personal laptop, which was later stolen out of the employee’s vehicle. Information stolen included names, Social Security numbers, addresses and in some cases, health and diagnosis related information.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 40 percent of medical data breaches involved portable media devices, such as laptops, in the past two and a half years. 

Many incidents that lead to patients having their information compromised can be avoided. 

Protection measures, such as encryption, password security, and cloud storage could easily be used by health care officials to make information more secure.

Snyder and Wenner, P.C.
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Phoenix, AZ 85016

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