Patients File Lawsuit Against Sutter Health in Stolen Data Incident

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A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Sutter Health for alleged negligence after a computer with information on more than four million patients was stolen from a Sutter Medical Foundation office, the Sacramento Bee reports (Smith, Sacramento Bee, 11/23).

The complaint was filed in Sacramento Superior Court on Monday on behalf of about 944,000 patients (DuHain, KCRA, 11/22).

Background

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 a computer monitor, keyboard and other equipment went missing. The computer was password-protected, but the data were not encrypted.

Sutter immediately reported the incident to police, and it determined the extent of the data loss before starting to notify affected patients last week (iHealthBeat, 11/17).

Details of the Lawsuit

The lawsuit alleges that the health system was negligent in safeguarding its computers and data and in notifying affected patients within a period of 30 days.

Robert Buccola -- an attorney from the Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood firm that filed the lawsuit -- said that if Sutter had "proprietary information in their files, they have a financial interest to make sure security is of the utmost importance."

Sutter's Response

Gleeson defended the time Sutter took to notify patients of the incident, saying the health system first had to determine what was on the computer.

He added that Sutter "deeply regrets" the incident (Sacramento Bee, 11/23).

The health system declined to comment on the lawsuit (KCRA, 11/22).


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