Identity theft—that is, the unauthorized use of another person's identifying information for any unlawful purpose—has become increasingly common, spurred by the growing frequency of transactions which are conducted over the Internet. This has become a serious concern for physicians for two reasons:
Physicians should be concerned about the theft of their identity as individuals and as physicians. As individuals, physicians should appreciate the risks of having their credit card, checkbook, Social Security Number or other confidential information stolen. Physicians also do not want to find themselves the victim of sophisticated schemes where their name and identity as a physician are used to bilk federal programs out of substantial sums of money or to improperly divert controlled substances. Learn more about physician issues relating to identity theft.
Physicians must appreciate the risk of, and protect against, patient identity theft. Failure to safeguard a patient’s personally identifiable information may subject a physician to significant penalties under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule.
Even if no such penalties result, failure to protect patient identity may be devastating to patients, and concomitantly injure the physician’s reputation in the community, therefore hindering the practice’s ability to grow or maintain its business. Learn more about patient issues relating to identity theft.