Texas health data at risk, audit finds

Texas state hospitals are failing to adequately protect electronic health records from tampering, according to a report from the Texas State Auditors Office.

'System access and security control problems at some Texas academic medical institutions have the potential to place electronic[ally] protected health information at risk,' the auditors said.

Unauthorized users both inside and outside the hospitals' and other institutions' networks could gain access to patient medical records, and read, copy, alter or delete information, said the report, Security Over Electronic Protected Health Information at Selected Texas Academic Medical Institutions.

'Intruders also could disrupt the operations of systems that are critical in providing health care,' the auditors said.

Security problems expose the state to significant financial risk because of the legal consequences of system breaches, the report said. Although the report does not detail the vulnerabilities, it did provide specifics about the security weaknesses to the institutions.

The medical institutions generally agreed with the report and set up plans to tighten their system security, the auditors said.

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