Laptop Theft: #1 Cause of Health Data Breaches

The Department of Health & Human Services has reported laptop theft as the number one cause of breaches of health information affecting more than 500 people, according to a Government Health IT news report.

The HHS began collecting and tracking data on breaches by public and private healthcare organization last year. Results showed that of the 189 records of data breaches affecting more than 500 people in the first year, 52 percent were because of theft. Another 20 percent were a result of unauthorized access and disclosure of protected health information.

HHS also found laptops were involved in 24 percent of the studied data breaches, with paper records being involved in 22 percent. Desktop computers were involved in 16 percent of breaches, and portable devices such as smart phones were involved in 14 percent.

Adam Greene, senior health IT and privacy specialist in HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, said the key to protecting sensitive health information is encryption. Not adequately securing and protecting information could lead to fraudulent billing for services that were never rendered and also potentially fatal consequences for affected patients if other individuals are undergoing medical care under their profiles.

Read the Government Health IT news report about laptops in data breaches.

Read other coverage about data breaches:

- HHS Beings Posting Data Breach Information Online

- Data Breaches Cost U.S. Hospitals $6B Annually

- Indiana Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against WellPoint Over Data Breach

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