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1.7 Million Patient Records in Massive Data Heist at NYC Hospitals

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 02-16-2011 Print
Thieves made off with the personal health records of about 1.7 million New Yorkers' when they stole backup tapes from four Bronx hospitals in December, the city's Health and Hospitals Corp. revealed.

Thieves robbed a van containing health records for over 1.7 million patients, staff, vendors and contractors of the North Bronx Healthcare Network in New York City.

The computer backup tapes were stolen on Dec. 23, but the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation began notifying victims Feb. 9, according to statement issued by the 14-hospital system on Feb. 11. While it took HHC nearly two months before reporting the data breach, it was well within the 60-day period required by New York state law. It took HHC this long to sort through the files to assess what kind of information the tapes had contained and who it belonged to, before reporting the data breach, according the hospital group.

"Letters in 17 languages have begun to be mailed to patients and affected individuals this week advising them of the theft and informing them of protective services that have been made available," Alan D Aviles, the president of the HHC, said in the statement.

Patients who have visited the Jacobi Medical Center, North Central Bronx Hospital, Tremont Health Center and Gunhill Health Center over the past 20 years, from 1991 to Dec. 2010, are affected by this data breach. The stolen flies also contained medical information for staff, vendors and contractors who work for the hospitals and had either access to the QuadraMed computer medical record system, or had been examined and screened by the hospitals' Occupational Health Service, HHC said.

The tapes contained full name, address, Social Security number, medical record number, health insurance information, diagnosis and treatment data, telephone numbers, birth, admission and discharge dates, and mother's maiden name, according to HHC's FAQ site. Staff, vendors, and contractors may have other personal information, such as professional licensure numbers.


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