Backup tapes missing from health facilities in Mass. and R.I.

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Unencrypted backup tapes, containing the personal information of several thousand patients who visited two Women & Infants Hospital walk-in facilities, have gone missing.

How many victims? 14,000 patients

What type of personal information? Ultrasound images, names, dates of birth, dates of exams, physicians' names, and, in some cases, Social Security numbers.

What happened? In September, officials at Providence, R.I.-based Women & Infants Hospital realized unencrypted backup tapes had disappeared. They contained the data of patients who visited its Providence walk-in facility from 1993 to 1997, and one in New Bedford, Mass., between 2002 and 2007.

What was the response? Last Monday, the hospital began notifying affected patients and also set up a call line for individuals who had questions. Free credit monitoring for a year was also provided to those affected.

Details: The number of missing tapes was not disclosed, though officials said most of the missing information belonged to patients who visited its New Bedford facility.

Quote: “We have no reason to believe that the information on the backup tapes has been accessed or used improperly,” said a patient confidentiality notice posted on the Women & Infants website. “It would take specialized equipment and technical expertise to access the information on the tapes.”

Source:, NBC 10 News, “Women & Infants reports missing records,” Nov. 6, 2012.

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