New York Hospital Accidentally Releases Patient Information

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In late September, New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center admitted that pieces of information, including 10 Social Security numbers had been inadvertently disclosed on the internet. The security breach is said to include about 6,800 patients.

According to a spokesperson, “snippets” of data, including names, ages, status and vital signs has become accessible to Internet search engines. They went on to say that the data becoming public was due to an internal hospital mistake, and that there was no criminal wrongdoing.

The breach was believed to have happened sometime in July when a relative of a patient found information during an Internet search. Still, it took the hospital several months to publicly admit to the mistake. The hospital stated that the reason they didn't go public about the incident was because they were investigating it internally. The 6,800 patients were all patients in the intensive care unit at the hospital over the past few years.

This incident raises questions for many in the healthcare field about the security of computerized medical records. While there are many benefits to keeping the data in digital format, one of the very large drawbacks is that the information can be compromised. And not just by hackers. All it takes is an employee who isn't sure exactly what they are supposed to do to have a situation like this.

I don't think that the issue is just about electronic medical records. Hospitals all over the country are losing funding and operating at a loss. The reasons for this are varied, but there are some who speculate that the price of treating the uninsured who visit emergency rooms leaves the medical centers with limited resources for training and keeping quality administrative staff.

What do you think? Do you think that electronic medical records are the best way to store sensitive data? Who do you think is at fault in this? What steps can hospitals take to ensure the security of their records? Let me know in the comment section.

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By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.


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