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black and white blood pressure gauge business computer

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Imagine having symptoms that feel like heartburn. You Google “heartburn symptoms and cures” and seek out advice from friends on Facebook.  Your symptoms worsen throughout the day, so you schedule a doctor’s appointment using your physician’s patient online services.

After your appointment, your doctor electronically sends a prescription to the pharmacy and provides you a handout with recommendations to follow for improvement.

This is a regular occurrence when you visit your physician and seems in line for medical treatment today. However the privacy of your health information may have been violated, and unfortunately these violations are common. A recent study in January of 2018 by the University of Phoenix found that 1 in 5 medical staff personnel had experienced a breach of patient data at their facility.

If medical data is shared inappropriately or stolen, these situations may occur:

  • Potential medical identity theft,
  • Your information may be used to obtain medical or government services and medical equipment, and/or,
  • Insurance claims may be falsified.

Secure Your Paperwork

  • Surveys reveal that 47% of individuals receive printed copies of their medical records from a doctor’s office, hospital, insurance companies or testing labs.
  • Sensitive medical information may inadvertently be released to family members and others – allowing them to read printed materials that were left unsecured.
  • Always keep medical documents locked up or shred them.

Secure Your Devices

  • Check smartphones and tablet settings to see if mobile apps you have downloaded are asking for information.
  • If you are not sure why an app asks for certain information – turn off the permission.
  • Create strong passwords and do not share them. Avoid using the same passwords for multiple accounts.

If Your Data is Stolen

  • Carefully review the accuracy of every explanation of the benefits document you receive from your health insurer.
  • If you find visits to a doctor, hospital or lab that are not familiar to you, report it immediately.
  • Get copies of your medical records and request a correction if you notice an error.
  • If you lose your health insurance card, ask for a new number.
  • Never give out health data by phone or email unless you are sure of the recipient.

Protect yourself and your health information!!

 

Written by: Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Mahoning County, Stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Donna Green, OSU Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Erie County, green.308@osu.ed

Resources: consumer.ftc.gov

 

 

 

 

 

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