DOWNEY - A laptop computer believed stolen from Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center contained private, unencrypted information on 667 Rancho patients, county health officials announced Tuesday.The laptop was discovered missing Feb. 23 from a hospital diagnostic area. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department launched an investigation on Feb. 24 and classified the incident as a theft, officials said. The laptop contained personal patient information, including the patient's name, date of birth, medical record number, treating physician, test date, referring physician, history of present illness, diagnosis, recommendations and report of electromyography (EMG) testing. No financial or social security information was contained in the laptop, officials said. The laptop contained information on patients who received care at the hospital between July 2007 and February 17, 2011. Patients impacted by the breach were initially notified by first class mail the week of March 1, authorities said. A second notification was scheduled to be sent this week, along with information on how patients could protect themselves from potential harm. Impacted patients were encouraged to contact the three major credit bureaus, including Experian (888) 397-3742, Transunion (800) 680-7289 and Equifax (800) 525-6285. The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, which operates Rancho, said it has enhanced hospital security, retrained staff, initiated a campus-wide privacy and security risk assessment and verified that all inventoried laptops are encrypted in compliance with county policy. "As a healthcare organization we are committed to protecting patient privacy and take great steps to ensure the security of electronic health information," said Mitchell Katz, MD, director of the Department of Health Services. "We have a duty to protect patients' medical information and we have implemented measures to prevent a future occurrence of this type." Rancho patients can call (877) 726-2461 for more information.
********** Published: March 31, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 50