We've spoken many times about how safeguarding medical records plays into a more general concern over protecting digital data overall. In one recent case, a company that was setback by a major breach saw that security risk extend to employee medical information as well.
Sony Corporation has suffered high-profile attacks that led to personal information being accessed. In addition to other pieces of information, like celebrity pseudonyms and budget information, we now know that unauthorized parties were able to view the medical data of employees, such as specific health diagnoses and important health insurance data, as Bloomberg's article on the situation has noted. More than 30 employees had the specific details for both them and their family members revealed.
Deborah Peel, who represents the organization Patient Privacy Rights, told the source that the exposure will have significant consequences.
"This stuff will haunt all those people the rest of their lives," she said. "Once it's up on the Internet it is up in perpetuity." She also stated that, when compared to non-medical leaks "this is a thousand times worse than that other stuff. Health information is the most sensitive information about you."
Although the media has reported on some of the more celebrity-centered aspects of these security breaches, safeguarding medical data is important for everyone. The source reports that one employee in particular was exchanging highly confidential details with the human resources department about an employee's child's care plan, including information about rejected insurance claims.
One possible upside to these kinds of damaging cases could be increased attention paid to keeping electronic health records secure. When providers have to enter into legal contention over such issues, it helps to have medical litigation support from experienced consultants.