Health Information Exchange Featured Article

August 01, 2012

Hartford Hospital Announces Leak of Almost 10k Patient Files



Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and its VNA HealthCare hospice and home health partner announced today that the confidential health information of 9,558 patients has been breached by a business associate, according to a story at healthdatamanagement.com.

In the hospital’s statement discussing the breach, it said that an unencrypted laptop computer containing personal information of some of its patients was stolen from the home of an employee of a firm called Greenplum, a subsidiary of one of its vendors, EMC Corp.

The statement went on to say that Greenplum “was performing data analysis for EMC on our behalf as part of a quality improvement project related to hospital readmissions.”

The theft was immediately reported to police and the hospital said that there was no reason to think any patient’s data had been compromised, the story reported. The data possibly leaked included information on 7,461 VNA HealthCare patients and 2,097 Hartford Hospital patients, with their names, addresses, dates of birth, marital status, Social Security numbers, Medicaid and Medicare numbers, medical record numbers and certain diagnosis and treatment information all contained within the files.

Just this week, Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago announced that six laptops and tablet computers had been stolen from its home hospice offices, and Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center sent letters to 3,900 patients about the theft of a physician’s personal laptop, which contained unencrypted patient files.  

In Utah earlier this year, 280,000 Medicaid patients’ health information, including again such confidential information as Social Security numbers, was breached. 

And they’re not getting any less damaging. Experts estimate that these breaches are costing the U.S. healthcare industry over $6 billion a year. 

So where is this all going? When will it stop? No one knows for sure. But just as electronic health records have brought so many benefits to patients and healthcare providers, they’re also proving they have a less than savory side.




Edited by Braden Becker
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