Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News article] The Rise of Medical Identity Theft

From the 7 February 2014 Stateline news article 

By Michael Ollove, Staff Writer

A young woman retrieves a patient’s medical records at the Family Health Center in Louisville, Ky. The theft of personal medical information, whether paper-based or electronic, is a large and growing problem. (Getty)

If modern technology has ushered in a plague of identity theft, one particular strain of the disease has emerged as most virulent: medical identity theft.

Last month the Identity Theft Resource Centerproduced a surveyshowing that breaches of medical records involving personal information accounted for 43 percent of all records breaches involving personal information reported in the United States in 2013. That is a far greater chunk of record breaches than those involving banking and finance, the government and the military or education.

The definition of medical identity theft is the fraudulent acquisition of someone’s personal information – name, Social Security number, health insurance number – for the purpose of illegally obtaining medical services or devices, insurance reimbursements or prescription drugs.

“Medical identity theft is a growing and dangerous crime that leaves its victims with little to no recourse for recovery,” said Pam Dixon, the founder and executive director of World Privacy Forum. “Victims often experience financial repercussions and worse yet, they frequently discover erroneous information has been added to their personal medical files due to the thief’s activities.”

The Affordable Care Act has raised the stakes. One of the main concerns swirling around the disastrous rollout of federal and state health insurance exchanges last fall was whether the malfunctioning online marketplaces were compromising the confidentiality of Americans’ medical information.  Meanwhile, the law’s emphasis on digitizing medical records, touted as a way to boost efficiency and cut costs, comes amid intensifying concerns over the security of computer networks.

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has disclosed the agency’s activities to the media, says the NSA has cracked the encryption used to protect the medical records of millions of Americans.

Multiple Motives

Thieves have used stolen medical information for all sorts of nefarious reasons, according to information collected by World Privacy Forum, a research group that seeks to educate consumers about privacy risks. For example:

  • A Massachusetts psychiatrist created false diagnoses of drug addiction and severe depression for people who were not his patients in order to submit medical insurance claims for psychiatric sessions that never occurred. One man discovered the false diagnoses when he applied for a job. He hadn’t even been a patient.
  • An identity thief in Missouri used the information of actual people to create false driver’s licenses in their names. Using one of them, she was able to enter a regional health center, obtain the health records of a woman she was impersonating, and leave with a prescription in the woman’s name.
  • An Ohio woman working in a dental office gained access to protected information of Medicaid patients in order to illegally obtain prescription drugs.
  • A Pennsylvania man found that an imposter had used his identity at five different hospitals in order to receive more than $100,000 in treatment. At each spot, the imposter left behind a medical history in his victim’s name.
  • A Colorado man whose Social Security number, name and address had been stolen received a bill for $44,000 for a surgery he not undergone.

 

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February 9, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , | 2 Comments

[Reblog] Are you a victim of patient profiling?

Very controversial, this posting has 113 comments as of Feb 4, 2014.
Two (or more! ) sides to this.
On a personal level, my medical record very boldly on the first page states two conditions
— Anxiety/Depression (have not needed medication for these conditions in 5 years)
— High Cholesterol ( have disputed the doctor on this, based on how I have read the scientific literature)

So, yes…I feel profiled!

Yet, the doctor is doing the best he can. He can only see patients for 15 minutes. His electronic records are
basically, well, dictated by the group he is in.

On another note, just as I am not defined by my job or resume…
I am also not defined by my medical record!

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 5.31.34 AM

From the 4 February 2014 Kevin MD article by Pamela Wible, MD

Ever felt misjudged by a doctor? Or treated unfairly by a clinic or hospital? You may be a victim of patient profiling.

Patient profiling is the practice of regarding particular patients as more likely to have certain behaviors or illnesses based on their appearance, race, gender, financial status, or other observable characteristics. Profiling disproportionately impacts patients with chronic pain, mental illness, the uninsured, and patients of color. Like racial profiling by police, patient profiling by physicians is more common than you think.

 

We rely on doctors to first do no harm–to safeguard our health–but profiling patients often leads to improper medical care, and distrust of physicians and the health care system, with potential lifelong consequences.

For the first time, people share their stories:

I was once denied pain meds after a fall off a 10-foot porch by the same doc who gave my pretty female friend pain meds after getting two stitches in her finger. I felt like my appearance had something to do with it.” ~ Jay Snider

 

Read the entire article (with 113+ comments) here

 

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February 4, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Patients Feel More Control of Their Health When Doctors Share Notes

 

From the 1 October 2012 article at Science Daily

Patients with access to notes written by their doctors feel more in control of their care and report a better understanding of their medical issues, improved recall of their care plan and being more likely to take their medications as prescribed, a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center-led study has found…

“Open notes may both engage patients far more actively in their care and enhance safety when the patient reviews their records with a second set of eyes.”

“Perhaps most important clinically, a remarkable number of patients reported becoming more likely to take medications as prescribed,” adds Jan Walker, RN, MBA, co-first author and a Principal Associate in Medicine in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at BIDMC and Harvard Medical School. “And in contrast to the fears of many doctors, few patients reported being confused, worried or offended by what they read.”…

..

Of 5,391 patients who opened at least one note and returned surveys, between 77 and 87 percent reported open notes made them feel more in control of their care, with 60 to 78 percent reporting increased adherence to medications. Only 1 to 8 percent of patients reported worry, confusion or offense, three out of five felt they should be able to add comments to their doctors’ notes, and 86 percent agreed that availability of notes would influence their choice of providers in the future.

Among doctors, a maximum of 5 percent reported longer visits, and no more than 8 percent said they spent extra time addressing patients’ questions outside of visits. A maximum of 21 percent reported taking more time to write notes, while between 3 and 36 percent reported changing documentation content…

Walker suggests that so few patients were worried, confused or offended by the note because “fear or uncertainty of what’s in a doctor’s ‘black box’ may engender far more anxiety than what is actually written, and patients who are especially likely to react negatively to notes may self-select to not read them.”..

 

 

 

 

October 4, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

E-health Records Should Play Bigger Role In Patient Safety Initiatives, Researchers Advocate

From the 20th July Medical News Today article

Patient safety researchers are calling for the expanded use of electronic health records (EHRs) to address the disquieting number of medical errors in the healthcare system that can lead to readmissions and even death. Their commentary is in the July 6 issue of JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Leading healthcare organizations are using electronic health records to address patient safety issues,” said Dean Sittig, Ph.D., co-author and professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Biomedical Informatics. “But, the use of EHRs to address patient safety issues hasn’t hit the mainstream yet and we think everyone should be doing this.”

One way to fast-track the use of EHRs to address patient safety issues would be to incorporate the annual patient safety goals of The Joint Commission, a healthcare accreditation organization, into the criteria for the certification of EHRs, said co-author Ryan Radecki, M.D., who is scheduled to join the UTHealth faculty Aug. 1….

Click here to read the rest of the news article

July 22, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet e-patient Dave – a voice of patient engagement (and related resources)

https://ted.com/talks/view/id/1181

e-patient Dave de Bronkart was successfully treated for kidney cancer at a very late stage. He credits his recovery to using the Internet to find trusted medical information as well as to get advice from patients via support groups.

His video Let Patients Help outlines how and why patients should empower themselves.
Some video highlights

  • Patients are presently the most underutilized part of the health team
  • The e-patient movement is at least partly based on hippie ideals of self-reliance and self-care (think Whole Earth Catalog)
  • e-patients are empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled through finding information to use in discussions regarding treatment options with their health care providers
  • Support groups often are useful in providing information not available at other sites (as which doctors specialize in certain treatments)
  • Patients not only need quality information, but also access to their raw medical data

Related Resources

How to evaluate medical and health information

Great starting places for quality health and medical information

  • MedlinePlus (US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health)
    Links to information on over 700 diseases/conditions, drugs & supplements, videos & tools (as health calculators, anatomy     videos, directories (as Find an Eye Doctor), and links to organizations
  •  But Wait, There’s More!

Many academic and medical institutions offer at least some reference services to the general public.  Be sure to ask for a reference librarian. He or she not only has a master’s degree in Library Science, but often additional related education in health related areas.

Online Health Communities/Support Groups

  • Self-Help Group SourceBook Online
    A starting point for finding every type of national, international, model and online self-help support group that is available starting point for finding every type of national, international, model and online self-help support group that is available. (MentalHelp.net)
  • MedlinePlus 
    Search with a phrase as “support groups” cancer or select a Health topic and select an organization.
  • Medpedia communities
    This site allows people with common health interests to share information and communicate. Anyone may create a community of interest and anyone may join.Medpedia is an open platform connecting people and information to advance medicine. Users include health care professionals, health care organizations, expert lay persons, students, and scientists.
  • MedHelp International
         This online health community which not only provides health information but helps patients actively manage their health through online personal health records andMedhelp trackers (iphone friendly options).
    The People option allows one to search by a disease or condition to find related information (including symptoms, treatments, resources). One can also view postings and blogs by other members and interact with them.
    Medical experts helps users by answering questions in Ask-an-Expert forums, participating in conversations with members in free live health chats, and sharing their knowledge and the latest news in blogs
  • Mayo Clinic Online Community is ” free and is open to anyone, whether you have been a patient at Mayo Clinic or not. It includes content from various Mayo Clinic blogs,health and medical videos from Mayo’s YouTube channel and links to news articlesabout Mayo Clinic research and treatment advances. It also features a discussion forum where members can connect with others who have similar interests or concerns.”

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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