ID thefts plague hospitals

According to a February study, 91 percent of small healthcare organizations suffered at least one data breach, with 24 percent of them likely resulting in medical identity theft. That list already is growing as about 100 North Shore University Hospital patients had their identities compromised, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System announced Thursday.

An ongoing investigation has found that an ID theft ring involved about 1,000 victims throughout the Northeast, affecting people outside of North Shore University Hospital.

The health system already informed involved patients of the ID theft. Patients who haven't gotten a letter have not been deemed victims and should not believe their personal information has been improperly accessed, North Shore-LIJ said.

However, more North Shore patients have started coming forward as ID theft victims, only after watching an Eyewitness News report last week. For example, North Shore patient Denise Abdale never received a letter from the hospital and had no idea how her identify was stolen until she saw the report on the North Shore ID theft ring Wednesday night, according to WABC Eyewitness News.

A registered nurse was charged Thursday for ID theft and possessing stolen information from North Shore and an international freight company, noted the article.

Meanwhile, another privacy breach has occurred at Memorial Healthcare System (MHS), in which workers stole patient information to file false tax returns, the Florida system announced last week. The system discovered the breach Jan. 27 but didn't say how the information was accessed.

After getting the okay from law enforcement officials, the system notified potentially affected patients that former employees may have accessed their names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers between 2011 and early 2012. The personal information did not include medical records, MHS noted.

For more information:
- here's the North Shore-LIJ announcement
- read the WABC article
- read the MHS statement (.pdf)