Wednesday, November 17, 2010

HHS: Laptop theft is No. 1 source of health data breaches

Laptop theft is the most prevalent cause of the breach of health information affecting more than 500 people, according to the Health & Human Services Department, which last year began tracking data breaches by public and private healthcare organizations.

The fact that laptops are so easily stolen underscores the importance of physical security in the protection of health information, according to Adam Greene, senior health IT and privacy specialist in HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, which enforces the privacy and security rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Of the 189 records of data breaches affecting more than 500 individuals in the first year, 52 percent were from theft. About 20 percent were from unauthorized access and disclosure of protected information, while 16 percent were from loss, he said Nov. 10 at the mHealth Summit conference.

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