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  • Health Data Breaches Affect 31.7 Million

    It's not exactly the kind of milestone they make greeting cards for: last week, the US Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) "wall of shame" listings of large-scale health IT data breaches passed the 1,000 mark. The breaches affected 31.7 million people in the US, a number equivalent to 1 in every 10 Americans.

    According to a recent article in Modern Healthcare (free registration required), a total of 1,026 breaches that affected 500 or more individuals each are now posted on the HHS site, which houses reports dating back to 2009. That number doesn't include the 116,000 breaches involving the records of fewer than 500 individuals, according to the article.

    The HHS Office of Civil Rights, which investigates the breaches, is primarily interested in ensuring compliance; however, monetary settlements have been increasing, with a record $4.8 million negotiated agreement announced in May. According to the Modern Healthcare article, the majority of cases are closed without a settlement.

    HIPAA rules can be complex, but the consequences of not understanding them can be serious. APTA provides resources on compliance on its HIPAA webpage.

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