Two laptops, which contained personal information for hundreds of thousands of patients, were recently stolen from University of Alberta Hospital in Canada.

How many victims? 250,000.

What type of personal information? Names and personal health numbers.

What happened? The laptops were stolen from a locked hospital laboratory room where they were chained to desks. The hard drives of the laptops contained a random sample of 250,000 lab reports, which contained the personally identifiable information (PII).

Details: The laptops are encrypted so it would be “extremely difficult” to access the sensitive information, making the risk of identity theft low – but still possible, hospital officials told the Edmonton Journal.
The hospital does not know which patient’s personal health numbers were contained on the computers because those on the list were randomly selected.

Quote: “The public should not be concerned,” Bill Trafford, chief information officer of Alberta Health Services told the Edmonton Journal. “We believe there’s very, very low risk of any information on those devices being made accessible to anybody else.”

Source: edmontonjournal.com, Edmonton Journal, “Laptops with patient information of thousands of Albertans stolen from U of A Hospital,” June 24, 2009.