From September 2009 when the federal breach notification rule became effective and through 2010, large breaches of protected health information accounted for less than 1 percent of nearly 31,000 reported incidents, but affected 99 percent of the 7.8 million individuals touched by a breach.

Further, theft of protected health information was the cause of 27, or 60 percent, of 45 large breaches in 2009--affecting 500 or more individuals--and 99, or 48 percent, of 207 large breaches in 2010, according to the HHS Office for Civil Rights in an annual report to Congress. Large breaches caused by theft affected about 1,468,578 individuals in 2009 and about 2,979,121 individuals in 2010.

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