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Damage from Healthcare Data Breaches Spreading

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, August 30, 2012

Almost twice as many people were affected by healthcare data breaches in 2011 as in 2010, according to a report released on Wednesday. The total number of breaches dropped by 32% to 145 but the number of people affected by those breaches doubled to 10.8 million.

The drop in occurrences reflects increased security controls and investigation procedures put in place to uncover data breaches, explains Tyler Quinn, a CPA who co-authored the report for Kaufman, Rossin, and Co., a Miami-based accounting and business consulting firm.

The increase in the number of people affected by breaches signals that individual incidents are hitting wider targets.  The latest tally includes the loss of a single back-up tape containing five million records.

The findings are based on a review of breaches reported to have occurred in 2011according to the Department of Health and Human Services' website. The self reporting of breaches is a requirement for businesses under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH).

The data shows that California had the highest number of breaches in 2011 with 15, followed by Texas (11), Illinois (8), Florida (7), and New Jersey (7).

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