(HealthDay News) — Sharing of passwords to access electronic medical records is common among medical staff members, according to a study published in Healthcare Informatics Research.

Ayal Hassidim, MD, from Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Israel, and colleagues conducted a 4-question Google Forms-based survey of 299 medical staff in order to determine whether participants had ever obtained the password of another medical staff member and why such episodes occurred.

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The researchers found that nearly three-quarters of respondents (73.6%) reported that they had obtained the password of another medical staff member. Just over half (57.2%) estimated how often this had happened, with an average estimate of 4.75 incidents. All 45 of the residents who took part in the study had obtained the password of another medical staff member, while 38 of 66 participating nurses reported this.

“The use of unique user IDs and passwords to defend the privacy of medical data is a common requirement in medical organizations,” the authors write. “Unfortunately, the use of passwords is doomed because medical staff members share their passwords with one another. Strict regulations requiring each staff member to have a unique user ID might lead to password sharing and to a decrease in data safety.”

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Hassidim A, Korach T, and Shreberk-Hassidim R. Healthc Inform Res. 2017 Jul;23(3):176-182. Epub July 31, 2017. doi:10.4258/hir.2017.23.3.176