National data is lacking on medical identity theft and the medical errors caused by these crimes, federal officials acknowledged during a town meeting hosted by HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
Although there is anecdotal data linking medical errors resulting from identity theft, there is no national survey documenting these occurrences, officials said.
Medical theft creates two types of crimes, the one-off crime and the deeper, more systemic type of crime, said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. Because these crimes are hard to detect, its a challenge to do any type of risk analysis, she said.
One of the main purposes of the meeting was to explore how medical identity theft should be addressed in a health IT environment. Doing a systemic cyberspace survey may be one way to get numbers on the scope of identity theft, said Betsy Broder, assistant director of the division of privacy and identity protection with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC and the Justice Department are working together to address this, she added.
Kirk Ogrosky, deputy chief for healthcare fraud in the criminal division of the Justice Department, encouraged the use of IT to help identify medical identity theft problems. This is the theft of the future, he warned, adding that theres currently not enough state police and regulators to round up these types of criminals and throw them in jail.