“Legalized” HIPAA Violations

When it comes to HIPAA violations, physicians are quick to be held accountable fined or imprisoned. Those whom violate HIAPA, purposefully, deserve the punishment that is due on them. However, it’s clear that physicians serve as scape goats. It’s similar to the NFL quarterbacks: win a game and you’re a hero, lose a game and it doesn’t matter who was at fault, you’re held accountable. At the very least, the quarterback does have control because he can make plays. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for physicians, whom have relinquished control of their profession to politicians, pharmaceuticals, managers, and administrators, alike.

This lack of control has allowed all others to escape prosecution when laws are violated. Hundreds of computer servers worldwide that store patient imaging data are so insecure that anyone with a web browser or a few lines of computer code can view patient records of more than 5 million patients in the US! This warning fell on deaf ears. Someone very intelligent, yet intelligence isn’t necessary, has identified 187 servers in the U.S. that lack basic security precautions or passwords. Companies such as MobilexUSA, which does mobile imaging to nursing homes, hospice centers, to name few, not only exposed patient names, but also their dates of births, their physicians and procedures that were completed. All put together, more than 16 million scans worldwide were available online, which included patient names, date of births and even social security numbers.

It’s clear that companies with this data can deduce acute and chronic medical problems patients suffer from and selectively implement advertising campaigns to see products and services. The best part, all this data is free!

Shouldn’t these companies be held accountable for such vulnerabilities?  Unfortunately, they haven’t been held accountable, and continue to profit from such services. If the article specified a physician or a group of physicians, one can only imagine how this blatant violation of the HIPAA be perceived.

(Editor’s Note: This is how lenient I am with our writers. I am a diehard Patriots fan and will debate the BS “cheater” accusation of Bill Belichick anytime but I will let this image go. You’re welcome, Adil.)

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