Veterinary client information breaches have consequences - DVM
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Veterinary client information breaches have consequences
There's much more at stake than regulatory fines — beware of mishandling sensitive information


Protect your clients

Your most valuable assets are your clients, and they trust that you'll protect their private information from theft or loss. Safeguard this information in the same way you protect a valuable piece of equipment. Take a moment to consider what even one client is worth to your practice. What if that one client has spent thousands of dollars in your practice every year? Do you want to hurt that person? Do you want to lose that client's business? It's your choice.

Breaches hurt employees, too

Dr. Susan, one of your associate veterinarians, is a victim of identity theft. Someone from your office faxed the payroll information you collected on her to the wrong telephone number. She now has to deal with the hassles of putting the pieces of her life back together. These demands are requiring her to take time off work to fix the multiple problems. This requires you, as the practice owner, to cover Susan's shifts in her absence. What is this going to cost you? How much time will it take to rectify her situation?

Information breaches have consequences; there's much more at stake than regulatory fines. What are you doing to prevent them from happening at your practice?

Create an Identity-Safe Zone

Your veterinary practice becomes an Identity-Safe Zone when clients and staff know and trust that you're doing everything in your power to protect them from the devastating harms of identity theft. Private information that flows in, through, and out of the practice must be protected at each and every step. Information protection varies depending on the format of the information.

For example, if your practice collects Social Security numbers on a computer's hard drive, this data must be protected through firewalls, data encryption and password management. On the other hand, if the Social Security number is collected through paper form, you can protect it by storing it in a locked cabinet, desk drawer or safe.

Then there are the administrative safeguards or the human side of protecting private information. Remember that your information privacy and security program may look great on paper, but it is only as strong as the staff members who implement it. A well-trained staff is the best defense against information breaches.

James Iafe, VMD, is a certified identity-theft risk-management specialist (CITRMS) and founding partner of PrivacyEdge LLC. You can call him at (724) 473-1176 or e-mail him at


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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