Veterans’ privacy breached

Department of Veterans Affairs in hot water over HIPAA privacy breaches

The Department of Veterans Affairs is responsible for thousands of privacy breaches under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) since 2010, an investigative report has revealed.

A two-month Pittsburgh Tribune-Review investigation found that VA employees or contractors were responsible for 14,215 breaches, such as stealing veterans’ identities or prescriptions, and posting Facebook pictures of veterans’ body parts, according to California Healthline. The investigation concluded that the VA lacks accountability, has poor safeguards in place, and fails to encrypt computer data.

“It’s hard to argue against the notion that [the] VA holds the dubious distinction of being the largest violator of the nation’s health privacy laws,” said Deven McGraw, director of the Center for Democracy & Technology’s Health Privacy Project.