RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif., March 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Eisenhower Medical Center (EMC) has implemented additional security procedures and protocols to help ensure patient privacy and security after a hospital computer and a television were stolen in a burglary on Friday, March 11.
The computer was password protected but not encrypted. It contained an electronic index with limited patient information used by EMC. The information in the index file included, patient names, ages, dates of birth, the last four digits of the Social Security numbers and the hospital’s Medical Record Numbers (MRNs).
The computer did not contain any information regarding the patients’ medical conditions or treatments at EMC or any other medical records. Additionally, there was no financial, bank, credit card or health insurance information on the computer. The information related only to EMC and not to any other healthcare providers on the campus.
The theft occurred at about 6 p.m. Friday, March 11, 2011 and EMC staff discovered a television missing shortly afterward. But the computer was not found to be missing until EMC personnel reported for work on Monday, March 14, 2011. At this time, EMC has no reason to believe that the computer was stolen for the information that it contained.
The theft has been reported to law enforcement, and EMC has been cooperating with the investigation. Notification letters are being mailed to all affected patients beginning today.
EMC has provided high quality, compassionate care for nearly 40 years. The safeguarding of our patients’ information is a top priority. We immediately took steps to ensure the safety of patient information. EMC’s safeguard requirements and policies and procedures for computers were reviewed, and patient index data was moved from individual computers to our secure data center. To the extent that the data may be needed outside of the secure data center, it will be encrypted and returned to the data center when it is no longer needed. We have also taken steps to further secure our facilities during off-hours.
EMC deeply regrets that this happened and assures its patients and families of its patients, that it has taken immediate steps to investigate and attempt to recover the computer. We are committed to fully protecting all of the information entrusted to us by patients and their families. A call center has been established to answer any questions that the affected patients might have and the toll-free number is being provided in the notification letters that are being mailed.
About Eisenhower Medical Center
Eisenhower Medical Center is a not-for-profit, comprehensive health care institution that includes the 542-bed Eisenhower Hospital, the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center at Eisenhower, the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower, and the Betty Ford Center, also located on the Eisenhower campus. Currently in the process of becoming a teaching hospital by 2013, the medical center is renowned for its Centers of Excellence in Orthopedics at Eisenhower Desert Orthopedic Center, Cardiovascular at the Eisenhower Smilow Heart Center, Neuroscience at the Eisenhower Neuroscience Institute, and Oncology at the Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center. Situated on 130 acres in Rancho Mirage, the medical center has provided a full range of quality medical and educational services for nearly 40 years for residents and visitors to the greater Coachella Valley. For more information, visit emc.org.
SOURCE Eisenhower Medical Center
What the press release omits, and what K.Kaufmann of The Desert Sun reports is that the computer held data on 514,330 patients dating back to the 1980s.
Interesting that they headline the theft of a television when the real story is the theft of data on half a million patients. I wonder if it’s because they want to convey that the motivation for the theft was likely the hardware and not the data on it.