Stolen Shands laptop had info of 12,500 patients
Published: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 11:50 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 11:50 a.m.
Shands HealthCare has notified about 12,500 patients that a laptop containing their medical information was stolen in January.
The unencrypted laptop contained information about patients referred over the past three years to the Shands at the University of Florida gastroenterology clinical services department. The information includes names, addresses, medical record numbers and medical procedure codes of the patients, as well as the Social Security numbers of about 650 people.
There is no evidence that any confidential information stored on the computer has been used for fraudulent purposes, according to Shands.
A Shands employee who deals with the clinic’s patient referral database downloaded the information under the belief that the laptop was encrypted, said Shands spokeswoman Kim Rose. The laptop was reported stolen Jan. 27 as part of a burglary of the employee's home.
Shands' human resources department has since worked to "discipline and re-educate" the employee, Rose said. Officials have since launched a system-wide encryption initiative to better safeguard protected health information stored on electronic devices, she said.
"We always work to educate employees on our privacy policies. ... This has given us another reminder," she said.
Letters were sent over the weekend to individuals with information on the laptop, she said. She attributed the month-long lag time between the burglary and announcement of breach details to the amount of time it took to follow legally required notification procedures.
"We want to make sure that we follow all the policies and procedures," she said.
Last week, Shands confirmed that a breach occurred to the Sun but declined to provide details.
Anyone affected by the breach is eligible for 12 months of free credit monitoring and can call a toll-free support center at 877-740-6995 for more information, according to Shands.
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