Data breaches that expose confidential medical data are costing healthcare providers $6 Billion a year.  SC Magazine reports on a new study by the Ponemon Institute and the results are not good.

The top three causes of breaches were unintentional employee action, lost or stolen computing devices and third-party accidents. The average number of lost or stolen records per breach was 1,769.

The survey found that breaches have cost the U.S. health care system $12 billion over the past two years. The economic impact of a data breach was approximately $2 million per organization over a two-year period.

Expect the number of records per breach to increase as portable devices continue to grow in capacity and shrink in price.  Employees may have good intentions when they take the entire database home with them, but data breaches often result when a car is broken into or a thumb drive slips out the pocket.  Healthcare organizations need a policy for securing USB devices and it needs to be enforced automatically.