Health Information Management

Laptop theft exposes PHI of 2,800 patients

HIM-HIPAA Insider, January 12, 2015

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Northwestern Memorial Healthcare in Chicago recently notified 2,800 patients of a breach that occurred when a password-protected, unencrypted laptop was stolen from an employee’s vehicle, according to a notice on the health system’s website.

The laptop may have contained the following patient information:
  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Dates of birth
  • Health insurance information
  • Billing codes
  • Dates of service
  • Physicians’ names
  • Medical record numbers
  • Diagnoses
  • Treatment information
In some instances, patients’ Social Security numbers may have been listed. The health system learned of the theft the day it occurred, October 21, 2014. It began sending letters to affected patients December 19, 2014.
The employee who had been in possession of the laptop contacted law enforcement officials after learning of the theft. The health system subsequently began its own investigation, according to the notice.
This article originally appeared on HCPro’s HIPAA Update blog. Stay up to date on all things HIPAA by signing up for e-mail updates from this blog.

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