The government website lists nearly 300 doctors, hospitals and insurance companies that have reported significant breaches of medical privacy in the last couple of years. In the last two years, personal medical records of at least 7.8 million people have been improperly revealed, according to the government.
It's time to pay the piper for lax security over medical records at hospitals and insurance companies. In March, the Office of Civil Rights at Health and Human and Services, which handles enforcement of HIPAA, imposed a $1 million fine on Massachusetts General Hospital after a hospital employee left paper records of 192 patients on a Boston subway train. Earlier this year, the civil rights agency fined a Maryland health plan, Cigna Health, $4.3 million, for denying patients the right to see their own records in violation of the HIPAA law. It was the first civil penalty imposed under the HIPAA law.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have shown that at least 30 people and organizations have access to the health data of a typical person with private insurance through an employer. The organizations range from pharmacies and drug companies to an employer's wellness program. Confidential medical data is shared widely among organizations unbeknownst to the patients.
HIPAA, the federal privacy rule for medical records, was designed to ensure better protection of patients' medical records. However, with the advent of electronic medical records, lapses in patient confidentiality are more common through computer hacking into the confidential medical database at hospital and insurance companies. Many hospitals and insurers do not encrypt the electronic medical records to keep them private from computer hackers.
You will be shocked by how many different entities are sharing your medical records. Do you care? Maybe not, but if a prospective employer has access to your private medical data and uses the data in making a hiring decision, that might tick you off a little...right?
At least the federal government's website gives you a way to check to find out whether your hospital, doctor or insurance company has had breaches of patient confidentiality. It's a decent decent for anyone concerned about the confidentiality of your medical records.
If you have any questions or want more information, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 866-889-6882. You can always request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.