Medical Identity Theft

Medical identity theft occurs when a person uses someone else’s name or other parts of their identity, without permission, to obtain medical care or receive payment for care or medical supplies.

When this happens, the identity theft victims (or their insurance companies) are billed for services they did not receive. It can cause confusion because medical information about the person who used the theft victim’s identity is now documented in the victim’s medical record. This faulty information can lead to confusion and even put the victim’s health at risk.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital has a strong commitment to keep your health information safe

At Northwestern Memorial Hospital, we uphold privacy and the confidentiality of our patients’ medical and personal information. We respect and protect patient information as if it was our own, and we take steps to protect your medical records and privacy.

We look for “red flags” and inconsistencies in medical records. Some of the “red flags” we look for are:

  • Basic information that doesn’t match information we already have in our system, like a date of birth
  • Identification papers that look like they were altered
  • Calls from patients reporting that they received a bill for services they never received

Each time a person in a non-emergency situation presents for treatment, we will request photo identification, such as:

  • Driver’s license
  • State-issued ID
  • Passport
  • Other photo ID (employment, military or school ID)

If the patient does not have photo identification, Northwestern Memorial Hospital staff should request two forms of non-photo identification, including:

  • Social Security number and/or card
  • Insurance card (if available)
  • Copy of utility bill
  • Other verification of identity, such as a credit card or voter’s registration card

When we treat patients who are minor children and do not have photo identification, we will obtain requested identification from his or her parent, guardian or responsible party.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft involving your health information please contact the Billing Inquiry Unit at 312-926-6900.

We also encourage you to use the Medical Identity Theft Response Checklist* (pdf), which includes a number of steps that you should take to help protect yourself and your health information.

* Reference:

2008 American Health Information Management Association, Medical Identity Theft Response Checklist for Consumers. Journal of AHIMA, July 2008 – 79/7.