News & Resources

Medical identity theft is on the rise

Nov 07, 2013 Dave King

The increasing virtualization of health care records has spurred concerns among providers and patients over the possibility of data breaches and identity theft. Unfortunately, the latter of these two seems to be ramping up, as health care records become a hot commodity for criminals.

Recently, television station WWLP-22 did an experiment to see how easy it would be to find and purchase the records of individuals in Massachusetts online. The verdict? It was simple. The team paid no money to find the names of diabetic residents, the identity of their doctors, where they live and even how many times a day they take their medication.

Furthermore, the news source found websites selling patient information, which computer experts at Western New England University said make it easier to access other records, including property, criminal, bankruptcy, liens or lawsuit information. More seriously, such breaches can have serious implications for someone's well-being.

"If, God forbid, I ever need some type of medical care, that person's blood type is on my medical record," Milagros Johnson told WWLP-22. "Don't tell me that's not going to be a risk to my health [...] it could be a matter of life and death."

Data breaches are occurring more often, especially in the health care sector. In fact, recently one provider reported a breach after leaving sensitive patient information on a copier's memory.