The protected health information (PHI) of patients at Dr. J.M. Benson’s Sherman, Texas practice was stolen in the event of office break in which may lead to data breach. Computers and at least one hard drive were stolen from the office.
Devices contained information of patients which includes names, addresses, phone numbers, health insurance provider numbers, and Social Security numbers. Status of information whether it was encrypted or not was unavailable.
Office issued written statement and advised to check their health reports and credit reports for any illegal activity. It mentioned, “We suspect that it might be possible for the persons who stole the equipment to attempt to use the information contained therein for the purposes of committing health insurance fraud.” Office is in the process of upgrading security checks. They also said, “Sincerely apologize and regret that this situation occurred.”
Dr. Benson immediately reported the incident to the police and investigation is in the process. He further added in statement issued to the affected patients, “In addition, you should monitor your health care reports, such as your insurance Explanation of Benefit (EOB) documents, to ensure that charges included on the EOB’s are for services that are actually provided to you,”
It is possible for the person who stole the records can use the patient’s personal information for committing health insurance fraud.
The penalties for a data breach are severe not only in terms of the monetary fines imposed on the organization, but also the potential loss of trust from customers and suppliers. Encryption software greatly enhances the security of your organization’s data as the information is not compromised if a laptop is lost or stolen.
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Organizations, especially corporate giants, have to have an information security policy in place that proves they have taken necessary steps and measures to safeguard the information they gathered. If these policies are not adhered to, the regulators may prosecute.