21 Million Medical Records Exposed Since 2009

The U.S. Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has revamped its health information security breach data and now is reporting that there have been more than 21 million medical records exposed over the past three years.

The OCR, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, collects breach data under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, an extension of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects the privacy of patient medical records.

The OCR’s revised report of HITECH data breaches involving 500 or more individuals offers details on all of the breaches reported to it since Sept. 2009. In total, the report shows 477 breaches of 500 patients or more, affecting 20,970,222 medical records.

The OCR said it has also received about 55,000 breach reports involving fewer than 500 records during this time period, bringing the total lost data to more than 21 million records.

Theft accounted for 54 percent of the breaches. Twenty percent were unauthorized access or disclosure; 11 percent were lost records and devices; 6 percent were hacking; 5 percent were improper disposal of records; and the remaining 4 percent were other/unknown.

The data contains information on six breaches that each involved the compromise of more than a million records. The largest breach was TRICARE Management Activity, the Department of Defense’s health care program, which reported the loss of 4.9 million records when it lost several backup tapes.

Wow. Backup tapes lost. That should have been easy to avoid.

 

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