Physician Disability: Medical Identity Theft
What are the effects of identity theft? How does it occur? The average medical identity theft takes about 12.1 months to resolve. Personal cost on average is $22,346 per victim. About 20 percent of the victims had medical records accessed.
Medical identity theft is more common than you think. According to American Medical News it has become the fastest growing type of identity theft. And it can hit physicians twofold. A patient’s identity could be compromised, or the physician’s professional identification could be stolen. The consequences are substantial. Physicians can end up spending thousands of dollars to clear their name when their professional identities are compromised.
Physicians can also face repercussions with their patients. Many patients report losing trust in their physicians after a medical ID theft has occurred. There is also potential for medical errors for two patients using the same identity. Finally, physicians could be subjected to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act if they did not adequately protect the data from being stolen.
Education is the key to preventing identity theft. Physicians should encourage patients to review Medicare summary notices and benefits documents, as well as review their own. Look for any names that don’t sound familiar, and contact Medicare immediately. Physicians can also check Medicare’s Provider enrollment, Chain and Ownership System that list practices associated with a physicians name- if a fraudulent practice has been set up in your name, it will show up on the list.
Your employees can also help on the front lines to protect patients’ identity. When processing information, front desk workers should always ask patients for two pieces of identification, ask patients how they were referred to this office, and look out for any inconsistencies in their medical records.
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