A study by the HHS Office of Inspector General finds the Medicare program had 14 breaches of protected health information in a 26-month period, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services could improve its processes for breach mitigation and notification.

OIG studied CMS breaches between Sept. 23, 2009, when the breach notification rule became effective, and Dec. 31, 2011. Most of the incidents were not large--the 14 breaches affected 13,775 Medicare beneficiaries--13,412 of those affected by a single breach caused by a Medicare summary notice printing error. Eight beneficiaries had information stolen by a contractor employee; 190 were affected in two incidents of information being posted online; and 165 were affected in 10 incidents of mismailings or lost communications.

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