Identity Theft and Medical Records

Electronic Medical Records on the Internet Can Increase Identity Theft

One complicated area of identity theft and how it relates to consumers’ lives has to do with access to medical information. Consumers are becoming more vocal and some are demanding easy access to their own medical records via the Internet. They feel that if they could conveniently access their own medical records they would be able to double check their medical records for accuracy. However, there are many privacy concerns with making medical records available over the internet, and identity theft ranks at the top of the list of concerns.

Adding to the Risks

If medical records were available over the Internet, it would be possible for criminals to hack websites and gain access to this sensitive information which often contains social security numbers. As a consumer you have to consider whether or not electronic medial records can really benefit you especially if it puts you at an increased risk for identity theft.

The Downside of Protection

New HIPPA regulations have restricted access that many individuals have to medical records. You can no longer easily get medical information for a sick family member that you are taking care of, and medical records must be transcribed in the States and not outsourced overseas. All of these serve to protect the privacy and confidentiality of medical records, and they also by default lessen patients’ risk of identity theft. Making medical records available online can certainly serve to undermine the progress in patient confidentiality that the new HIPPA regulations have made.

Take Precautions

If you are concerned about the accuracy of your medical records, there are a few things that you can do. If you are taking any medication, it is a good idea to keep a list of the medicines, dosages, and the physician who prescribed each medication with you. If you ever need to go to the emergency room, you can give the staff a copy which will clearly indicate the medicines you are taking. You can request a copy of your medical records and review them for accuracy. In some instances, you might have to pay for this service, but check first with the medical records department of any hospitals you’ve been a patient at. I know some individuals who go so far as to try to see what the doctor writes in their chart during exams. Reducing your risk of identity theft should be an important concern, and having restricted access to your medical records can sometimes be worth the trade off.

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