As a health care provider, keeping patient medical records confidential is a fundamental aspect of the job description. Within those records, the most private details of a person’s life are revealed, details, that if leaked, may ruin the reputation of the patient and the health care provider.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Florida Hospital is currently trying to recover from the damaging effects of a breach of its medical electronic records. Three employees were to blame for “inappropriate access” to the records, all nonmedical personnel.
No motive has yet been attributed to the breach, which occurred between January 2010 and August 2011. All 2,252 patients whose records may have been involved in this incident are being notified.
Though Florida Hospital screens employees before hiring, a spokesperson for the hospital believes that “nonessential” personnel should have restricted access to records.
With a federal push to have more and more records be transferred to an electronic format, health care providers need to take every precaution to make sure these files remain private. A privacy breach not only endangers patients, but can result in a slew of consequences for the organization responsible for the breach.
Perhaps the larger issue at hand is whether or not electronic medical records are safer than their paper counterparts. While electronic records may be more efficient, they can be easier to access than a paper file safely guarded under lock and key. However, the switch to electronic files seems inevitable, so the keepers need to continually evaluate and adjust security measures to protect this top secret information.
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