Electronic health record breaches up 32% this year over last

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As more patient records move to electronic formats, the number of breaches, or losses, of that information is also up sharply rising 32% this year over last, according to the NY Times. Lost or stolen laptops and phones make up almost half the breaches. Nationally, 57% of office-based physicians use electronic health records. Breaches cost the industry $6.5 billion/year but can cost patients far more. Records lost can include name, birthdate, and social security numbers in addition to sensitive health information. Breaches of unsecured protected health information that affect 500 people or more are listed online by law. The site, called the Wall of Shame, includes seven breaches in CT over the last two years together totaling 170,339 people. Organizations that lost information included providers and insurers, and involved theft, loss and unauthorized access. Unfortunately, in only some cases are entities required to notify patients that their information was breached. This highlights the need for strong security of electronic records and, just as important, patient control over their information. Informed consent is the basis of a respectful partnership between people and the health care industry that keeps us well. A breach should not be the first time any patient learns that their information is being shared.