What do WikiLeaks and Boston dumps have in common?

Answer: security vreaches that release VERY sensitive information.

Follow-on question: How would you like your health records made public?

I was surprised that there was hasn’t been an uproar over the ObamaCare provisions that entail the Feds developing Electronic Medical Records databases with all of our health records.

Of course, the representations were that there would be no untoward uses of the data (think IRS) and that all data would be kept strictly private.

Regarding privacy, think WikiLeaks and Boston dumps.

If our high security military information can slip out to hackers, why would anyone believe that health information would be secure?

And, consider the recent incident in Boston where thousands of patient health records, some containing Social Security numbers and sensitive medical diagnoses, ended up in a pile at a public dump. See article highlights below.

If hospitals can’t keep control of old-school paper docs, does anybody really believe that the Feds will be able to control electronic health records?

Caveat citizen

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Boston Globe: Patients’ files left at public dump, August 13, 2010

Four Massachusetts community hospitals are investigating how thousands of patient health records, some containing Social Security numbers and sensitive medical diagnoses, ended up in a pile at a public dump.

The unshredded records included pathology reports with patients’ names, addresses, and results of breast, bone, and skin cancer tests, as well as the results of lab work following miscarriages.

By law, medical records and documents containing personal identifying information must be disposed of in a way that protects privacy, and leaving them at a dump is probably illegal, privacy lawyers and hospital officials said. Violators face steep fines.

The episode highlights in dramatic fashion how hard it can be for hospitals to safeguard patient information, given the large number of doctors, insurance companies, medical billing firms, and contractors who have access to personal data in the normal course of business.

“This is a perfect example of how complicated the security of confidential information is … All it takes is one slip in that process for information to be released.’’

Full article:
http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2010/08/13/mass_hospitals_investigate_exposure_of_records?mode=PF

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Thanks to CH for connecting WikiLeaks and EMR.

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