Stolen server contains medical info on 40,000 eye patients

OCR added a few more breaches to its list. Two were covered earlier today on PHIprivacy.net, but the third one, added later in the day, affected 40,000 people:

Silicon Valley Eyecare Optometry and Contact Lenses
State: California
Approx. # of Individuals Affected: 40,000
Date of Breach: 4/02/10
Type of Breach: Theft
Location of Breached Information: Network Server

An FAQ on the firm’s web site says, in part:

What happened?
On Friday morning April 2, 2010 at 5:30 a.m., two burglars broke an outside window to the administrative area of our office at 770 Scott Boulevard in Santa Clara, CA. Our security cameras show the intruders coming through the window, confiscating the computer, and pushing the computer and a plasma TV back out the window of entrance, all within 50 seconds. Our cameras recorded the type of vehicle they were driving. The alarm system was activated and the police were notified. A full police report was filed.

What data was stored on the stolen computer server?
The server that was stolen contained our patient data base information. The patient records contain names, addresses, phone numbers, and in some cases social security numbers. E-mail addresses birthdates, family members, medical insurances as well as medical and ocular health information was included. No Optomap retinal images were stored on the system. No credit card information was stored on the system.

Was the information secured?
Yes. There were 3 levels of security in place: physical, technical and administrative. Physical security consisted of locked doors, an alarm system to the police office, and surveillance cameras. For technical security, the data was password protected on two levels: a detailed password to access the server and a second password to access the patient data base. Administrative security was in place allowing no public access to the server.

Is all of my patient data lost?
No. Our patient data base is backed up nightly and an encrypted copy is stored off-site. We were able to restore our data and retrieve our patient records.

On April 23, the firm posted an update to its site indicating that a suspect had been arrested. On May 13, they reported:

We are working with the District Attorney’s office and the California Office of Health Information Integrity (CalOHI). The arrested suspect confessed to the theft. He will not release the name of the co-suspect who supposedly has the server. We have filed a complaint against him with the Cal OHI to enable them to work with the DA on this case. He can face a financial penalty of up to $250,000. It is unknown at this time if the suspects have accessed or were able to access any of the information stored on the computer server.

The firm also intends to upload a copy of the police report.

Thanks to the good folks over at ITRC who dropped me a note to tell me about this latest addition to OCR’s breach list.

Note: I decided to “feature” this post because I am really impressed with the clarity of their FAQ and documentation of the incident. Their FAQ could serve as a positive example of how to deal with a breach.

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