Medical Identity Theft is Picking Up Steam

Medical Identity Theft is a growing problem with an annual cost well into the billions. Some privacy breaches are due to theft, others are due to human error.  See more information in the following article.

Thomas Rupp

According to a survey by the accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, almost four out of ten hospitals and doctors surveyed, caught a patient attempting to use someone else’s medical information to obtain medical services.

Medical identity theft or fraud was the second most common privacy or security issue reported by healthcare providers according to the nationwide survey conducted by PwC which consisted of 600 healthcare executives from domestic hospitals, doctors’ organizations, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and life sciences companies. The report also stated that Medical identity theft was the fastest growing form of identity theft, with more than 1.4 million Americans being victimized last year at a cost exceeding $28 billion.

Although theft accounted for two-thirds of publicly reported data breaches in 2009, the most reported breach in patients’ private health information was the improper use of patient data by an employee in a doctor’s office, hospital , insurance company, or life science organization.

In a press release, PwC Director of Health Information Privacy and Security Practice James Koenig had this to say:

“Most breaches are not the result of IT hackers, but rather reflect the increase in the risks of knowledgeable insider related to identity theft and simple human error–loss of a computer or device, lack of knowledge or unintended unauthorized disclosure

Over half of the surveyees stated over the past two years they had experienced at least one incident with information privacy and security.

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