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Worse patient care follows hospital data breaches

The risks of hospital data breaches for patients in Arizona can go beyond the threats to privacy. In fact, a researcher at Vanderbilt University says that more than 2,100 patients die each year in relation to hospital data breaches. Because these types of security problems lead to litigation, investigations and inquiries, hospital services can be diverted from patient care to rectifying issues caused by the breach.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services revealed data that showed 305 data breaches at hospitals from 2012 to 2016. In these breaches, 14 million patient records were exposed. The researcher sought to compare patient care at hospitals that had and had not experienced these types of breaches. The study noted that the rate of heart attack patients that die within 30 days of hospital admission increases by 0.23 percent on average the year after a breach. It goes up even more, by 0.36 percent, two years following a data breach.

The study also noted that hospitals that had gone through a data breach took a longer time to administer electrocardiographs to newly admitted patients. The results did not reflect long-time patterns; indeed, the study noted that the numbers for both metrics were similar prior to the breach and it was only after the data breach that the metrics diverged. Researchers noted the importance of cybersecurity not only in preventing the immediate damage and threats to privacy but also in enhancing hospitals' standards of medical care. Many hospitals invest far more in patient care than in IT systems, but creating a secure IT system could be strongly beneficial to patient health.

People who have suffered medical mistreatment, a doctor error or hospital negligence and have a worsened medical condition as a result may have recourse to seek accountability. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to consult with patients about their situation and provide advice about means to pursue compensation.

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