Details of 7,000 Cook County patients may be on stolen hospital laptop

It is troubling that within the span of a few hours, I am having to cover two stolen laptops containing unencrypted patient information as well as Social Security numbers. In this case, Carlos Sadovi reports:

A laptop computer containing sensitive information about 7,000 patients of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System was reported stolen from a locked office in the system’s administration building, officials said today.

The computer was stolen on June 1 from the building at 1900 W. Polk St. but hospital officials did not reveal the theft until today, after an internal investigation, said Lucio Guererro, spokesman for the hospital system.

The laptop was being used to upload information for medicaid and medicare reimbursements, said Guerrero. The computer was sending information to the federal government for the 7,000 patients who had been seen at the hospital over a three-day period in May, Guerrero said.

After notifying police about the theft, officials conducted an internal investigation and determined that while the computer was password-protected it included the names, birth dates, some social security numbers, and other internal codes related to the patients, Guerrero said.

Guerrero said that its investigation determined that there had been evidence that the information had been deleted from the computer. But officials do not have any information to indicate that the information was permanently deleted from the computer’s internal memory drive.

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