Results of the The Harris Poll of 2,454 adults surveyed online between June 9 and 16, 2008, which was designed in collaboration with Alan F. Westin, professor of public law and government emeritus at Columbia University, include:
In the past few years, a number of health care facilities, employers, government agencies or other organizations have acknowledged that confidential medical information was stolen or lost. Recent examples of these "medical breaches" include the University of Miami, WellPoint, The National Institutes on Health, the Cleveland Clinic, CVS, J&J Home Health and Baptist Health. Further, the Identity Theft Resource Center reported over 50 breaches from health care providers in the first six months of 2008.
Ultimately, while the responses in this poll may not represent actual breaches of medical information, there are a significant number of Americans who believe their personal medical information has been compromised by organizations holding it.
According to Westin, "For this poll we were trying to measure perceptions among the public of having suffered a loss or theft of medical records or health information from health information holders. This is whether or not any outright medical identity theft (use of stolen medical data to obtain valuable medical services) took place. The harms involved in loss or theft of medical records involve not just worries about medical identity theft but also feelings of personal violation and fears of potential misuse or publication of sensitive medical information."