Hackers Obtain Patient Information From Local Hospitals

SILOAM SPRINGS (KFSM) – Computer hackers recently stole personal information from hundreds of hospitals across the country.

Among those hit by the breach were hospitals operated by Community Health System. There are six area hospitals operated by that system, including Siloam Springs Regional Hospital, Northwest Medical Centers in Springdale and Bentonville and Willow Creek Women’s Hospital in Johnson.

Sparks Hospital in Fort Smith and Summit Medical Center in Van Buren are also operated by Community Health System, although officials at both hospitals said their patients’ information was not compromised.

“It doesn`t make me feel very safe at all,” said Amber Jennings, a former patient at Siloam Springs Regional Hospital.

Personal information of 4.5 million patients nationwide was stolen.

A spokeswoman for Siloam Springs Regional Hospital tells 5NEWS information stolen includes social security numbers, addresses, birthdays, telephone numbers, and names.

“A hospital, of all places, is supposed to be everything confidential,” Jennings said.

Across the nation, a total of 206 hospitals were hacked. Officials tell 5NEWS the information was hacked by someone in China.

Information stolen is not just that of patients. Those referred to doctors in that network could be at risk as well.

“It is very valuable information,” said Matt Drachenberg, a specialist in the medical field. “Your medical identity is much more valuable than your financial identity.”

Drachenberg said hackers can use the information to scam the healthcare system, possibly walking away with more money than they would with credit fraud.

“They can get away with $50,000 [to] $100,000 defrauding Medicare,” Drachenberg said.

According to specialists, the hospitals are required by law to protect patients from here on out from fraud.

Siloam Springs Regional Hospital officials tell 5NEWS they will, indeed, provide that coverage.

Jennings said she thinks this data breech is unacceptable, and that the hospitals should be held accountable.

“Especially coming from a hospital where it is supposed to be confidential,” Jennings said.

A spokeswoman at Siloam Springs Regional Hospital tells 5NEWS since the breach, they secured the network from future theft.

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