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Data breach affects Vermont hospice patients

Aug 15, 2013 Dave King

Data breach affects Vermont hospice patients

Identity theft is crime that does not discriminate based on person or place. It can happen to anyone, anywhere and at anytime. Most recently, a healthcare provider in Vermont fell victim to such a data breach.

Caledonia Home Health and Hospice in Vermont had to alert patients about the possibility that their personal and confidential information, including health records and Social Security numbers, was compromised following the theft of an employee's Netbook, Health IT Security reported.

The laptop was stolen from the home of one of the nurses employed by the provider and contained the information of patients in its home health program. However, Director of Clinical Care and Performance Outcomes Susan Johnson told affected patients in a letter that due to a dual password protection policy, it is unlikely their information can be accessed, the news source explained.

However, the health provider sent patients information on what they should do to tackle the problem. Among the steps it advised individuals to take were: review bank, credit and debit card account statements immediately and continue doing so over the next 12 to 24 months; monitor credit reports using Equifax, Experian and TransUnion and report any inconsistences or suspicious activity immediately,

Health IT Security pointed out that the healthcare provider may not have been as secure as it should have been, as it is likely Caledonia would have mentioned if there were any measures beyond password protections safeguarding the computer.

Unfortunately, Caledonia is not an outlier. A study released by Experian Data Breach Resolution found that in the first quarter of 2013, 875,000 healthcare records were compromised due to data breaches, American Medical News reported. Furthermore, of the healthcare institutions surveyed, 94 percent said they had experienced a breach in the past two years.