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BIDMC Notifying Patients Of Potential Computer Data Breach

Vendor failed to restore security controls

BOSTON - Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) is in the process of notifying patients of a potential breach of protected health information as a result of the failure of a vendor to restore security controls following routine maintenance.

The computer, which was located in a locked room, stored patient names, BIDMC medical record numbers, gender, date of birth and the date and name of radiology procedures for 2,021 patients. No Social Security numbers or financial data was stored on the computer.

The computer was found to be transmitting data to an unknown location, the result of being infected by a computer virus following a routine maintenance visit.

"BIDMC takes this incident and the protection of protected health and personal information extremely seriously," said John Halamka, MD, BIDMC's Chief Information Officer. "We are grateful no Social Security numbers or financial information was released and apologize for the inconvenience and deeply regret any concern this situation may cause."

"We continually test and modify systems, while aggressively enhancing practices to secure sensitive information. In this case, BIDMC shut down the computer immediately upon learning that it was infected with a computer virus. The computer was cleaned and all software re-installed to ensure the virus was no longer present. Updated security controls were also installed and activated to prevent viruses from being installed. BIDMC has also worked closely with its vendor representative to ensure that an incident such as this does not re-occur."

Affected patients have been given access to state and federal resources, a toll-free telephone number, 877-615-3765 and one year of identity protection services, at no charge to them.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and currently ranks third in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit