Stolen laptop compromises hundreds of Wisconsin hospital patients

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Hundreds of patients treated this year at St. Mary's Janesville Hospital in Wisconsin may have had their personal data compromised when a health care laptop was stolen from the car of an employee.

How many victims? As of Oct. 1, the hospital identified 629 patients who may have been affected.

What type of personal information? Names, dates of birth, medical records and account numbers, health providers and departments of service, bed and room numbers, dates and times of service, visit histories, complaints, diagnoses, procedures, test results, vaccines and medications.

Email information was stored on the hard drive and was password protected, but not encrypted.

What happened? A hospital employee's car was broken into and the laptop was stolen. 

What was the response? An investigation was opened by the hospital. The medical center is reviewing its policies and is educating its employees on how to protect patient information. All hospital laptops will undergo active inspections to ensure the machines are encrypted. Letters were sent to affected patients, who are being offered one free year of identity theft monitoring services.

Details: The break-in occurred on Aug. 27. Affected patients – who visited the hospital between Jan. 1 and Aug. 26 – began receiving letters on Sept. 30. The unencrypted email information stored on the hard drive is a violation of hospital policy.

Quote: “We have no reason to believe the laptop was stolen to gain access to patient information or that this information has been accessed or misused in any way,” according to a hospital statement. “The laptop did not contain any Social Security numbers, addresses, credit card numbers, or financial information of any kind.”

Source: stmarysjanesville.com, “Statement from St. Mary's Janesville Hospital,” Oct. 1, 2013.

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