Shands Computer Stolen; Thousands Receive Letter of Information Breach
Shands HealthCare officials have notified about 12,500 individuals that a Shands-owned laptop computer containing their health and other personal information was stolen last month.
The laptop held information about Shands patients and individuals who
were referred over the past three years to the Shands at the University
of Florida gastroenterology clinical services department, referred to as
the G.I. Clinical Services department. Personal information stored on
the laptop included names, addresses, medical record numbers and
abbreviated medical procedure codes. The laptop also contained the
Social Security numbers of about 650 people.
Shands has no evidence to believe that any of the confidential
information stored on the computer has been used for fraudulent
purposes. However, as a precaution, Shands officials have worked to
quickly notify the people whose information was on the computer. Letters
have gone out this week providing information and instructions about
taking additional protective steps. Shands has also posted a notice on
its public Web site Shands.org and has alerted statewide media per state
and federal guidelines.
"We very much regret that this happened," said Shands HealthCare
CEO Timothy Goldfarb. "We're doing all we can to work with and
support those affected. We're also working to reinforce our privacy
policies and practices within the organization."
A Shands employee had downloaded the health information onto an
unencrypted Shands-owned laptop at home for work-related purposes. The
employee reported the computer stolen on Jan. 27 when the employee's
home was burglarized. The Gainesville Police Department was notified
immediately and initiated an investigation into the theft. Shands also
immediately launched an internal investigation. The Shands HealthCare
Privacy Office has reported this incident in compliance with state and
Shands leaders have since launched a systemwide encryption initiative
to better safeguard protected health information stored on Shands-owned
computers, laptops and other portable communications devices as well as
on employee-owned devices used to support Shands work.
Anyone affected by this event is eligible for 12 months of free credit
monitoring and can call the toll-free Shands Support Center at
877-740-6995 for more information.
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