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Medical Records Increasingly Used to Commit Fraud

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According to an article in the October 9,2006 issue of Modern Healthcare by Joseph Conn, medical identity theft is a growing crisis for many healthcare providers, as it allows the use of patients' personal information for anything from simple insurance fraud to wholesale replacement of medical records. According to the article, protected health information (PHI) has a high black-market value for identity thieves. Although financial fraud using medical records can be an economic challenge to healthcare providers, the real risk is that defrauders will change the information on a person's medical records, which would cause life-threatening problems if the changes are not caught. In addition, if the records of multiple patients are co-mingled by identity thieves, HIPAA regulations themselves often prevent the victims from accessing their records to remedy the errors.