Plaintiffs’ litigators are plowing the fields of data security breach litigation and driving up the burden on entities that retain others’ personal information. As well, data security breaches present a double-whammy for health care providers. Not only does a provider have to suffer the consequences of the breach, but the HITECH Act also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to post a list of breaches of unsecured protected health information affecting 500 or more individuals. You can view this “Wall of Shame” here. This page details 380 security breaches affecting over 18 million people.
A recent article in the New York Times detailed the many challenges that arise when patient data is lost or stolen. The article describes how one stolen lap-top cost a non-profit health care consultant $300,000 in legal fees and 600 hours in lost time managing the breach. The article credits digitized and electronic medical records with the 32% increase in lost data. As stated in the Times, the Ponemon Institute claims that loss of electronic patient records cost the health care industry $6.5 billion last year. The number is growing.
Litigators are increasingly taking advantage of health care providers and others suffering a data security breach. One data security breach detailed in the article resulted in two class action lawsuits covering 4 million lost patient files. The plaintiffs’ lawyers’ current demand is for payment of $1,000 per lost file, which totals $4 billion dollars.
This Times article further highlights the risks posed by lost data and hackers and the need to secure personal data from loss or theft.
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