OCR: Data Breaches Double Since July

Dom Nicastro, December 2, 2010

The number of entities reporting breaches of unsecured protected health information (PHI) affecting 500 or more individuals is close to reaching the 200 mark.

As of Tuesday, November 30, the number of entities reporting breaches to the government's HIPAA privacy and security enforcer hit 197. The number of entities—listed on the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) breach notification website--has almost doubled since July, when the number hit 107.

In the past five months, 90 new reports have surfaced, or an average of 18 per month, a higher pace than the 15-per-month the first five months after OCR launched the website.

The list is required by HITECH, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 privacy subpart that includes greater breach notification requirements, more public scrutiny and increased fines for HIPAA violations.

The reporting requirement is included in the interim final rule on breach notification, which became effective on September 23, 2009.

The breach affecting the most individuals is still AvMed, Inc. of Florida, whose Dec. 10, 2009, breach involving a laptop affected 1.22 million individuals.

Laptops are still the number one location of breach information on the list, accounting for 55 of the 197 reports (27.9%). Paper records (41 reports), desktop computers (32) and portable electronic devices (29) follow.

Dom Nicastro Dom Nicastro is a contributing writer. He edits the Medical Records Briefings newsletter and manages the HIPAA Update Blog.
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