CA: Data stolen from 5,000 Palomar Health patients after flash drives left in employee's car (updated)

Teri Figueroa reports:

 About 5,000 patients of Palomar Health had personal information — including medical diagnoses — stolen last month when someone swiped a company laptop and two flash drives from an employee’s vehicle, a company official announced Friday.

Read more on U-T San Diego.

A statement on Palomar Health’s website says:

Notice to Palomar Health Patients Regarding Stolen Flash Drives

Palomar Health is committed to protecting the confidentiality and security of our patients’ information and we regret to inform you of an incident involving some of that information.

On February 22, 2014, Palomar Health learned that two flash drives were stolen from an employee’s vehicle overnight. We immediately began a thorough investigation, including hiring an outside expert forensic company to reconstruct the information contained on the flash drives. The investigation concluded on March 25, 2014 and determined that the flash drives may have contained patients’ names, dates of birth, diagnoses, treatment information, and insurance information (including Medicare identification numbers). Patients’ financial information and medical records were not on the flash drives.

This incident did not affect all Palomar Health patients, only certain patients treated since 2008.

We have no knowledge that this information has been used in any way; however, as a precaution, we will begin sending letters to affected patients on March 28, 2014. We have also established a dedicated call center which will be active beginning on March 28, 2014. If you believe you may be affected but did not receive a letter by April 18, 2014, or if you have any questions, please call 1-866-313-7993 Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

We deeply regret any inconvenience this may cause our patients. To help prevent something like this from happening in the future, Palomar Health is reinforcing education with our staff on the importance of handling and securing our patients’ information.

Update: There’s been an arrest in the case and the flash drives have been recovered.

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