What are the biggest data breach threats to patient medical records? Stolen laptops? Lost thumb drives? Unshredded paper charts? Improperly disposed of office equipment? Hackers?

The source of reported Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) breaches has shifted from theft and loss of individual records in 2011 to theft and hacking in 2012, according to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) report to key congressional committees in September 2014, http://1.usa.gov/1yCQX8L.

The OCR has been notified of 710 reports of HIPAA breaches affecting approximately 22.5 million individuals from Sept. 23, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2012. While the number of reported HIPAA breaches is not huge, a closer look at the findings may help pediatricians understand how to shore up HIPAA security protections.

Covered entities (e.g., physicians, dentists, clinics, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies, etc.) have been required to comply with the HIPAA Security Rule since April 2005. OCR became responsible for...

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