Stolen medical records can be costly, deadly

Tom Kisken writes in the Ventura County Star:

When identity theft happens in hospitals or medical offices, money may be the least of the victim’s worries.

[…]

Often, the crimes involve an employee who has access to records and sells them, [Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum] said. The buyers start cautiously. They send false bills to insurers for $60 or $70 charges for ongoing conditions like diabetes or cancer. Upon finding the gold mine of claims that go unchallenged, they send as many bills for as many people as they can.

Hospitals and clinics fight many attempts to correct falsified records information or to provide copies because of federal laws designed to protect the patient’s records, Dixon said. They argue that because the information has been changed and now belongs to someone else, the victim doesn’t have access to it.

But Jim Lott, executive vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California, called Dixon’s claim “absolutely false.”

He said medical identity theft is very rare, but when it happens, hospitals and doctors will provide victims with copies of the record and correct any errors.

“It requires some research and work done, but there’s no problem in sorting it out,” he said.

Read More – Ventura County Star

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