The opportunities for the mistakes, which can be deadly, are increasing as health care becomes more complex. A patient in cardiac arrest was mistakenly not resuscitated because clinicians confused him with a patient who had a do-not-resuscitate order on file. Another patient was given an okay to undergo surgery based on a different patient’s records and was found dead in his hospital room the next day. Such patient-identification mix-ups are common and can have deadly consequences, according to a report from the ECRI Institute, a nonprofit research group that studies patient safety. The report analyzed 7,613 cases of so-called wrong-patient […]

In 2014, medical identity theft cases jumped an estimated 22 percent compared with the prior year. Someone steals your wallet and uses your health insurance card to buy prescription painkillers. Or a family member “borrows” your insurance coverage and racks up medical bills that you’re stuck with. Or someone pilfers your Medicare card to fraudulently access federal benefits in your name. All are examples of medical identity theft, an increasing threat in the digital age by cyberthieves who gain access to personal information, such as medical data, health insurance records and Social Security numbers. In 2014, medical identity theft cases […]

Thieves use insurance information for surgeries, prescription. Medical identity theft is a crime on the rise. Nearly 2.5 million cases were reported in 2014, an increase of 20 percent from the year before. A stolen medical identity can ruin finances, compromise medical treatment and cause legal problems. If a thief steals a person’s medical identity, he or she can use it to get expensive surgery and medical goods. Cleaning up the bills can take years and can also negatively affect a person’s credit score. According to the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, once a person’s medical record is mixed with a […]

Take steps to safeguard your personal health information—and know what to do if your data has been breached. There is a lot you can do to avoid medical identity theft and to reduce its negative effects if your personal data is stolen. Here, the proactive steps to take to keep your private health information out of the reach of hackers and other would-be thieves, advice on spotting the signs of a potential problem, and how to proceed in the event of a theft. 10 Ways to Guard Against Medical Identity Theft 1. Get copies of your medical records and add […]

What you need to know about HIPAA and more. Laws have been enacted to help protect your medical privacy. Here’s the lowdown on two such regulations and the aspects of medical privacy they protect. The best-known law in the area of medical privacy is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA. The law spells out who can access your personal information (healthcare providers, their business associates, and subcontractors such as claim processing services) and how they might use and share it. The second key medical privacy law is the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and […]

When thieves take your personal data to get prescription drugs, doctor care, or surgery, it can endanger your health and trash your finances. It began like an ordinary purse snatching. The credit card reader on the gas pump at her Houston neighborhood station wasn’t working, so Deborah Ford went inside to pay. By the time she returned to the car, her purse and wallet were gone. Ford filed a police report, canceled credit cards, and requested a new driver’s license and health insurance card. She checked with the bank several times to be sure nothing was funny, then forgot about […]

Thieves have discovered that medical IDs have far greater value to them than credit card data. Oncology practices should protect themselves from the danger of having their IT systems hacked by having a risk analysis done to identify potential access and compromise points, says Ann Patterson, senior vice president and program director for the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA). The alliance was formed three years ago when its originators realized that medical ID fraud was growing rapidly and had the potential to become a huge problem. A study by the Ponemon Institute indicates that the number of US victims of […]

Protecting patients’ identities Medical identity theft: Part 2 Editor’s note: This is part two of a series about medical identity theft. Look for part one in the July issue of Briefings On HIPAA. PHI is a bankable commodity. Hackers steal data and sell it to fraudsters. Individuals borrow or trade health information to fraudulently obtain coverage for services. Medical identity theft is a highly personal crime that can impact the victim’s finances, personal and professional life, and health. Protecting this data is a tall order and involves staff in diverse departments, from front desk registration to information security. Click here […]

Or will it be too little, too late? If you’re not yet old enough to qualify for Medicare coverage, you may not realize that Medicare cards are distinctly old-fashioned: They are simply laminated cards that openly display that most traditional (and vulnerable) of identifiers, the Social Security number (SSN). The Medicare Common Access Card Act of 2015, or H.R. 3220, aims to finally update those cards, replacing them with machine-readable, fraud-resistant “chip and pin” cards that would not reveal any personally identifiable information. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), about $60 billion of Medicare fraud and abuse takes place […]

In the hidden recesses of the Internet, millions of people’s medical records are up for sale to criminals. For John Kuhn, a routine visit to a hospital in Michigan turned into a $20,000 bill for surgery that he never actually received. Kuhn, who works as a senior threat researcher at IBM, later learned from the hospital that staff had lost a hard drive filled with patient data, including his own record. Kuhn eventually had to prove to the hospital that it was a case of identity theft by pulling up his shirt to show that he didn’t have any post-surgical […]