On Wednesday, California-based Sutter Health announced that a desktop computer that contained the personal information of 4.2 million patients was stolen last month from a Sutter medical office in Sacramento, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
The computer was password-protected, but the data were not encrypted.
How It Happened
The computer was stolen the weekend of Oct. 15 after a rock was thrown through a window at the Sutter Medical Foundation business office in Sacramento. Bill Gleeson, a spokesperson for Sutter, said the items that went missing included a computer monitor, keyboard and other equipment.
Sutter immediately reported the incident to police, and it determined the extent of the data loss before notifying the public.
Details of the Incident
Two groups of patients are affected by the incident.
The first group comprises 3.3 million individuals whose health care providers work with Sutter Physician Services. The stolen data on these patients include names, addresses, birth dates, medical record numbers and health insurance providers (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 11/16).
Meanwhile, data that went missing on 943,000 additional Sutter Medical Foundation patients included the same information, as well as dates that services were provided and descriptions of diagnoses or procedures from January 2005 to January 2011 (Smith, Sacramento Bee, 11/17).
Sutter officials said the data do not include patients' financial records, Social Security numbers or health plan identification numbers.
Sutter President and CEO Pat Fry said in a statement, "We deeply regret that this incident has occurred."
Fry noted that Sutter had been working to encrypt computers throughout the system when the incident occurred, adding that those efforts have been accelerated (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 11/16).
Sutter plans to notify affected patients by Dec. 5, and it has established a toll-free telephone line to answer questions about the incident (Sacramento Business Journal, 11/16).
On Wednesday, Capital Public Radio reported on the stolen Sutter computer (Moffitt, Capital Public Radio, 11/16).