Brigham and Women’s Hospital notifies patients after data stolen in armed robbery

Privacy Incident Notification for Brigham and Women’s Hospital Patients

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of patient information. Regrettably, this notice concerns an incident involving some of that information.

On September 24, 2014, a laptop computer and cell phone were stolen from a BWH physician during an armed robbery that took place off of BWH premises. During the robbery, the assailants forced the victim to disclose the pass codes/encryption keys to these devices. Possession of the pass codes/encryption keys along with the devices themselves could provide an individual the ability to view information stored on the laptop or cell phone. The theft was immediately reported to the Boston Police Department. We do not know if the information on these devices has been accessed. To date, neither the laptop nor the cell phone has been recovered.

Our investigation has determined that the data contained on the devices included information of certain patients receiving treatment at BWH’s Neurology and Neurosurgery programs between October 2011 and September 2014, as well as a small number of individuals participating in research studies. The data on the devices included patient names or partial names, and may also have included one or more of the following: medical record number, age, medications, and information about diagnosis and treatment. The patient data did not include social security numbers, insurance numbers or other financial account information.

Although BWH has no indication of any misuse of this information, BWH began sending letters to potentially affected patients on November 17, 2014. If you believe you are affected but do not receive a letter by November 27, 2014, or if you have any questions, please call our toll free Helpline at 855-732-6640 during the hours of 8:30 am to 5:00 pm EST, Monday through Friday.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by this incident. BWH values and is committed to protecting our patients’ privacy and the security of our staff. Upon learning of this theft, BWH initiated a thorough investigation, including the creation of a multidisciplinary workgroup to respond to this incident. BWH is currently reviewing related policies and procedures in an effort to determine if there are steps that BWH can take that may decrease the likelihood of reoccurrence of this type of incident in the future.


Update: MyFoxBoston provides additional details on the robbery.

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