Breach, Data Security

Lost thumb drive leads to compromised patient data


A lost thumb drive containing thousands of patient records went missing from a Nebraska doctor's office.

How many victims? 2,125 patients of James Fosnaugh, a 30-year doctor of internal medicine who works out of Wedgewood Legacy Medical in Lincoln, Neb.

What type of personal information? Patients' full names, birth dates, home addresses, phone numbers and, in some cases, names of family members, according to a release from Wedgewood Legacy Medical. A representative from Fosnaugh's office said no financial and insurance information and no Social Security numbers were lost.

What happened? Fosnaugh wore the thumb drive on a piece of lanyard around his neck and it was said to have slipped off sometime in May. The device has not been recovered.

What was the response? Fosnaugh's office sent letters to the affected patients and contacted investigators.

Details: Employees in Fosnaugh's office scoured the office and emptied garbage bags and vacuum cleaners, but were unable to find the thumb drive. Fosnaugh used the device to review medical records, particularly when seeing patients in the hospital. The office has since ceased storing patient information on portable drives.

Quote: “Although we believe that it is highly unlikely that this computer chip has or will be found by someone who can extract the information on it, we cannot be 100 percent sure, thus we need to timely notify our patients of this event,” the doctor's office said.

Source:, Lincoln Journal Star, “Lost piece of thumb drive contained thousands of patient records,” June 30, 2013.

Get daily email updates

SC Media's daily must-read of the most current and pressing daily news

By clicking the Subscribe button below, you agree to SC Media Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.