It is every patient and hospital’s worst fear: A breach of patient data. What makes this case even worse is that the breach did not happen by some hacker, or some nighttime burglar. No—this data heist came from the hospital’s OWN employees!
Officials at the University of Miami Hospital found two employees “inappropriately accessing” patient information on their systems. Officials caught on and immediately warned that this information may have been sold by the employees which makes this even more disturbing. This occurred on July 18th, 2012 and was notified to all patients simultaneously as the employees were terminated. There is a criminal investigation going on to assess the liability of all the parties involved. The hospital sent out a letter at the time of the incident and now, sends out a second letter regarding the issue and updating with further developments.
The letter that was sent notified patients that the fact sheets which were accessed by the employees included a lot of very personal data. That data included the patient’s name, address, date of birth, insurance policy numbers, and reason for the visit. While this is certainly a lot of information which may have serious repercussions, what is even worse is that Medicare and Medicaid insurance policy numbers are typically still the patient’s social security number. Thus, some of the most vulnerable populations are at the greatest risk for identity theft!
As a New York medical malpractice attorney for many years, this is just appalling! It is so easy to get angry at this situation. Hospitals really are the arbiters of massive amounts of patient data. They really need to protect these lists and related information to ensure the safety of the patient’s identity. But also to ensure the patient’s confidence in the health care system in general. There is already a lot of flak aimed at the health care system and incidents like this do not help mitigate the animosity.
I cannot stress this enough, but medicine reaches bounds much further than just simply healing patients. Health care systems involve not just healing, but also the administrative end. And if either the healing or administrative end lacks, the other will fall with it.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.