Computer with Information on 4 Million Patients Stolen in California

side note: Today’s healthcare industry is increasingly dependent on computers and data sharing via the internet or an intranet system. Add to this the increasingly common use of social networking services, like Facebook, as a means of marketing a medical practice to potential patient customers. This evolution toward cyber-dependency has been accelerated by the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, which mandates the use of portable electronic medical records as a means of cutting healthcare costs.

The pressure on the healthcare community to protect the integrity of patient data has never been greater, and there has been a significant increase in the number of lawsuits tied to reports of data breaches and accidental releases of sensitive medical or financial information. These breaches can be considered a major violation of HIPPA rules in regard to patient privacy.

Many major medical malpractice insurance companies are offering a cyber liability coverage product to policyholders. Oftentimes, this additional coverage can be acquired at little or no expense.

In regard to social networking platforms, it is a smart idea to have a frank conversation with a your staff about what is and what is not permissible to post as well as when it is appropriate to post. It is an even smarter idea to draft an internet policy for you and your staff.

Cyberliability is a new medical liability risk. If you are not sure if you and your staff are engaging in the most safe cyber practices, contact your broker or medical malpractice insurance company and ask them if your practices are compliant.

A Northern California physicians network says a computer stolen last month contains personal information on more than 4 million patients dating back to 1995.

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