Good or Bad?
Medical News Print


By: Randy S. Gerber, Esq., Founder of

In this week’s two part-series, I will explain why our health information is so valuable that really nice people want to borrow it and not-so-nice people want to steal it.  And in part 2, we will explore what we should be doing to protect our information in these digital times.

Last week it was Facebook’s turn in the spotlight.  In addition to the well-publicized breach of our personal information, Facebook was having ongoing discussions with hospitals requesting that they share anonymous patient care information.

We regularly read about not-so-nice people trying to steal our information.  Their targets are not limited to any one type of business. Examples of breaches in 2017 include:  Henry Ford Health (affecting 18,470 patients); Arkansas Oral Facial Surgery Center (affecting 128,000 patients); Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (affecting 18,000 patients); Verizon (affecting 14 million customers); and Indiana Medicaid (affecting 1.1 million customers).   

It reminds me of Glinda’s line from Wizard of Oz:  “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” Are you using my health information for good or bad?

Let’s look at the good.  With all the amazing advances in technology, our health information is used to improve the care we receive, to develop specialized treatments to combat diseases, to lessen the chances that we will be readmitted to a hospital, to reduce the time we spend in hospitals, to track our wellness and to increase the overall quality of care.

Let’s look at the bad.  Our medical records contain our social security numbers, birth dates, email and mailing address, insurance policy information, medications, history of illness, illnesses of members of family, credit card information, among other things.  If your intentions are not pure, consider the possibilities: using our information to buy drugs, get medical care, submit false medical claims, selling our medical records for cash. And the hits keep coming.

This is why data breaches are more prevalent in the medical field than in any other industry.  And unlike a stolen credit card, which can be cancelled and replaced, the stealing of our medical information is a much more serious and costly problem.

In part 2, I will talk about your rights and actions you should take to guard against your medical records being used by a “good witch” or a “bad witch”.  

Thanks for reading.  Randy.

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