TX: Dallas warns that ‘small number’ of laptops containing patient information are missing from ambulances

Robert Wilonsky reports:

Dallas City Hall revealed late Tuesday that “a small number” of laptops containing patient information have gone missing from Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulances.

According to the city, those computers disappeared between January 1, 2011, and August 29, 2014. The city’s release did not say how many laptops were unaccounted for — or how they disappeared. Messages have been left for Sana Syed, the city’s spokesperson.

The city does say that on August 15, it discovered that “one of the software applications on these EMS laptops was not properly protected.”

Says the release, “If the EMS laptop used during a patient’s treatment was one of those unaccounted for, and if the paramedics performed an electrocardiogram (EKG) on the patient, that EKG and possibly the patient’s name, age and gender, may have become accessible to an unauthorized person(s).”

Read more on Dallas News.

Dallas Fire-Rescue has this notice linked from their home page:

Dear Patient:

The City of Dallas is contacting you as part of our ongoing commitment to protecting your patient information. Because we take all privacy concerns seriously, I am writing to make you aware of a potential privacy issue.

A small number of Dallas Fire-Rescue (DFR) Emergency Medical Services (EMS) laptop computers in DFR ambulances became unaccounted for between January 1, 2011 and August 29, 2014. During that time period, you were treated by Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedics and some of your protected health information was collected onto an EMS laptop. On August 15, 2014, the City determined that one of the software applications on these EMS laptops was not properly protected. If the EMS laptop used during your treatment was one of those unaccounted for, and if the paramedics performed an electrocardiogram (EKG) on you, that EKG and possibly your name, age and gender, may have become accessible to one or more persons not entitled to that information.

We take very seriously our role of safeguarding your personal information and using it in an appropriate manner. The City of Dallas apologizes for any inconvenience this situation may cause. Please know that our investigation is ongoing; if we learn additional information that may affect you, you will be notified. The City has formed a breach assessment team, which is working with an outside consulting firm to assess potential security risks related to the EMS laptops. Once the risks have been identified actions will be implemented to prevent such events from recurring.

If you have questions related to this matter, please call the Dallas Fire-Rescue EMS staff at 1-844-532-5527 and someone will assist you.

Sincerely,

Donna Anderson

Privacy Officer

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