Breach, Data Security

Doctor’s stolen laptop found at pawn shop; data of 652 patients exposed


A Washington state psychologist's laptop containing the personal health information of several hundred patients was stolen – and later recovered in a pawn shop.

How many victims? 652 patients  

What type of personal information? The last four digits of Social Security numbers, patient names, identification numbers, addresses, dates of birth, psychological evaluations (including notes and reports with diagnoses) and dates of services.

What happened? On Feb. 4, the laptop of a contracted psychologist, who works for Washington's Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), was discovered stolen in Gig Harbor, Wash.

What was the response? Dr. Sunil Kakar, who owned the stolen laptop, notified affected patients by letter.  

Details: On Feb. 14, Gig Harbor Police recovered the password protected laptop in a pawn shop. Law enforcement found no evidence that the files had been accessed by intruders, but Dr. Kakar notified patients upon the chance that they were.

Quote: "We are unable to determine whether the data was accessed or further copied or disclosed,” Kakar wrote in the notification letters. “While there is no information to show that the stolen data has been accessed or used for identity theft, I am erring on the side of caution and notifying every person who might be affected.”

Source:, The Bellingham Herald, DSHS contractor's laptop stolen in Gig Harbor; identify theft possible risk,” March 29, 2013.

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