News & Resources

Data breach affects more than 3,000 patients

Jan 07, 2012 Karen Umpierre

Medical identity theft, which occurs when a person receives healthcare using someone else's identity verification, is a growing epidemic. According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, data breaches have increased 32 percent year-over-year, and cost the U.S. healthcare industry around $6.5 billion annually. One such breach recently occurred at the Stone Oak Urgent Care & Family Practice in Stone Oak, Texas, according to the San Antonio Express-News. An office door at the facility was pried open in late October and computers in the office of Dr. Sudhir Gogu were stolen, containing the names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, account numbers, disability codes and diagnoses of 3,079 patients. While attorney Celeste Lira noted that as of December 15, no malicious activity has been reported to San Antonio Police, there have yet to be any arrests in the case. "The danger of medical identity theft is that the thief can use your identity to get medical care and a record is created with the imposter's medical information that could be mistaken for yours," Lisa Schifferle, a spokeswoman for the Federal Trade Commission, told the news source. "The consequences can be quite severe." Gogu recommended in a letter to his patients that they get their credit reports for employment checked to ensure no wrongdoing.