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BIDMC Notifying Patients of Potential Computer Data Breach

Letters will be sent to affected individuals

BOSTON - Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is in the process of notifying approximately 3,900 patients of a potential breach of protected health information (PHI) as a result of a physician's stolen personal laptop computer.

The computer was stolen from the office of a BIDMC physician on May 22. The computer, which contained a tracking device, has not been recovered nor has the tracking device been activated.

In addition to notifying law enforcement, which arrested a suspect in the theft, BIDMC engaged a national forensic firm to investigate if data was compromised.

There has been no indication that any information has been misused. The laptop contained files that included short summaries of medical information used for administrative purposes within BIDMC, but did not contain complete medical records and did not contain patient financial information such as social security numbers. Also included on the stolen laptop were approximately 230 administrative employee records.

"We take the incident extremely seriously, and have now accelerated implementation of a program to assist employees with protecting devices they purchase personally," said John Halamka MD, BIDMC's Chief Information Officer. "We deeply regret and apologize for any concern or inconvenience this situation may cause our patients and families."

BIDMC has enhanced physical security in office buildings and mounted a campaign to raise awareness about data security issues within the organization at all levels.

Affected patients will be notified through the US Postal Service and will be given access to toll-free telephone number, 855-781-0038, beginning Monday, July 23 at 9 a.m.

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 www.bidmc.org.