NYC: Health Records Stolen From Van, 1.7 Million People Affected

Susanna Griffee reports on a breach involving backup tapes  stolen from a vehicle that had been left unattended:

The personal information of 1.7 million patients, hospital staff and associated employees was recently stolen, and city officials are notifiying potential victims to warn them about the loss of the files.

The files were reported stolen in late December from a van operated by GRM Information Management Services, when the driver left the van unattended and unlocked.

The city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation says the files contain personal health records along with names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other private information.

The affected facilities are Jacobi Medical Center, North Central Bronx Hospital, Tremont Health Center and Gunhill Health Center.

Patients who have received care at North Bronx Healthcare Network hospitals since 1991 could have had their information stolen. Those who have worked at those centers also could be affected.

[…]

GRM did not respond to calls for comment.

According to HHC spokeswoman Pamela McDonnell, the data is not readily accessible without “highly specialized and technical expertise and certain tools.”

“The person who took them probably wouldn’t know what to do with them,” she said. “The files just look like cassette tapes in a box.”

Read more on NBC.

A statement from the North Bronx Healthcare Network reads:

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) on February 9, 2011 began to notify 1.7 million patients, staff, contractors, vendors and others who were treated by and/or provided services during the past twenty years for or at Jacobi Medical Center, North Central Bronx Hospital, or their offsite clinics, which comprise the North Bronx Healthcare Network. The notification is about a recent reported theft of electronic record files that contained their personal information, protected health information (PHI), or personally identifiable employee medical information (PIEMI). Personal information can include social security numbers, names, addresses, and other information that may be used to identify individuals. PHI can include personal information and patients’ medical histories. PIEMI can include personal information and employees’ health information.

HHC values and protects individuals’ privacy and confidentiality and deeply regrets any inconvenience and concern this may create for patients, staff and others affected. The loss of this data occurred through the negligence of a contracted firm that specializes in the secure transport and storage of sensitive data. There is no evidence to indicate that the information has been inappropriately accessed or misused. However, HHC is taking responsibility and providing information and credit monitoring services to all affected individuals who may be worried about possible identity theft. For more information and to sign up for one year of free credit monitoring and fraud resolution services, individuals affected can call 1-877-412-7148.

These individuals may have been affected:

  • Patients
  • Workforce members and the employees of contractors, vendors, and other third parties, who, due to the types of services or other functions performed for or at the hospitals, had access to the hospitals’ computer medical record system, QuadraMed.
  • Workforce members and the employees of contractors, vendors, and other third parties, who, for various reasons, were examined, assessed, and/or screened by the hospitals’ Occupational Health Service.

If you are one of the individuals who may have been affected, please see the appropriate notification letters and Frequently Asked Questions linked below for more information about the incident and the services available to you.

A copy of the notification letter is also posted to the hospitals’ web sites. It lists the types of patient information on the backup tapes as name, address, telephone numbers, social security number, medical record number, health insurance information, diagnosis and treatment information, and birth, admission and discharge dates.

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