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Laptop thefts compromise 700,000-plus hospital patient files

TheftPoliticsPersonal Data CollectionInterior Policy

The theft of two laptop computers from a hospital administration office in Alhambra has compromised the health information of 729,000 patients, including their social security numbers, officials said Monday.

The laptops were stolen Oct. 12 and contain data from patients treated at AHMC hospitals: Garfield Medical Center, Monterey Park Hospital, Greater El Monte Community Hospital, Whittier Hospital Medical Center, San Gabriel Valley Medical Center and Anaheim Regional Medical Center.

The thieves swiped the laptops from a video-monitored sixth-floor office on a medical campus that officials said is "gated and patrolled by security."

The suspects broke into the office and stole two password-protected laptops, they said.

Gary Hopkins, a spokesman for AHMC, said the hospital group called Alhambra police as soon as the theft was discovered Oct. 14. Security video revealed the theft occurred Oct. 12.

According to the hospital group, the computers contained data, including patients' names, Medicare/insurance identification numbers, diagnosis/procedure codes, and insurance/patient payments.

Although there was no evidence the information was accessed or used, it cannot be ruled out, AHMC Healthcare Inc. officials said in a statement.

"We regret any inconvenience or concern this incident may cause our patients," they said in the statement.

AHMC Healthcare Inc. had already asked an auditing firm to perform a security risk assessment and it was following the recommendations, officials said. They will now expedite a policy of encrypting all laptops.

Hospital officials suggest that effected patients may want to place fraud alerts on their credit files and order their credit reports to look for fraudulent activity.

Hopkins said patients with any concerns or questions may contact the group at (855) 977-6678.

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