NYU Langone Medical Center Notifies Patients That Stolen Computer Contained Clinical Information

NYU Medical Center has posted the following breach notification on its web site, dated March 29, 2011:

NYU Langone Medical Center notified patients recently that a desktop computer was discovered stolen from an NYU School of Medicine Faculty Group Practice physician’s office on January 27, 2011. The computer contained correspondence with patients regarding their office visits but contained no financial information. A suspect has been arrested, although the computer has not been recovered.

The theft occurred on the fifth floor of Bellevue Hospital Center in an office used for research and not patient care. The computer contained correspondence regarding the office visits of 670 patients that occurred between April 4, 1999 and September 30, 2008.

NYU Langone was able to recreate the correspondence from the stolen desktop using encrypted network back-up files. All patients with current addresses have been notified of this issue by first class mail.

The majority of correspondence on the stolen computer (653 letters) included patient name, diagnosis, the results of diagnostic tests, and clinical information gathered during the patient’s visit to the physician’s office. An additional 26 letters may have included information such as medical record numbers, home address, date of birth, patient occupation, and, in only two instances, social security numbers.

At this time there is no indication that patient information stored on the stolen computer has been adversely used or disclosed. NYU Langone Medical Center is committed to protecting the privacy and security of our patients’ medical information, and since this incident, we have taken affirmative steps and additional security measures to ensure that thefts such as this do not occur again.

The NYU Langone Medical Center’s Office of Compliance has set up a dedicated telephone line to answer patient’s questions regarding this issue at 1-877-698-2333, Monday-Friday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Now that is a pretty terrific disclosure notice. Kudos to NYU for providing a clear description of the types of data involved and who might be affected. I’m just not sure I understand whether the computer was stolen on January 27 or just first discovered stolen on January 27..?

Updated May 4: According to NYU’s report to HHS, the theft occurred on January 27.

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