Thousands of Medical Records Hacked, Says Wisconsin Health Organization

It’s news that will do little to quell worries about the security of electronic health records.

An announcement from Milwaukee-based Froedtert Health reveals a security breach that could have put sensitive information relating to 43,000 patients at risk.

“On December 14, 2012,” a notice from the health system reads, “we learned that a computer virus may have allowed an unauthorized person to access a Froedtert Health employee’s work computer account… We found no evidence that any unauthorized person accessed any personal information or medical records.  As a precaution, we felt it was important to tell you this occurred.”

“Protecting the privacy and confidentiality of the personal information we maintain always has been one of our highest priorities,” the statement continued, confirming the creation of a call center for patients with concerns or questions stemming from the incident. “Unfortunately, such computer attacks are increasingly common, affecting organizations worldwide.”

Sadly, that assessment is correct. Worldwide security breaches are growing in frequency and severity. Just this week, Redspin – a provider of HIPAA Security Risk Analysis services to nearly 100 hospitals – warned that personal health records are becoming of increasingly higher value to cybercriminals as they can be exploited for identity theft, insurance fraud, stolen prescriptions, and dangerous hoaxes.

The report cites last year’s attack on the Utah Department of Health as a prime example of how bad breaches can be. During the incident in question, some 780,000 Medicaid and Children’s Health Plan records were targeted.

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