Kentucky hospital loses thousands of medical records

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | August 24, 2010
University of Kentucky
Medical Center (Image courtesy
University of Kentucky)
A laptop stolen from a Kentucky hospital might be putting the privacy of patients at risk. The University of Kentucky said Sunday it was informing 2,027 patients that a laptop stolen in June might contain their personal medical information.

The laptop was stolen from a locked office in a pediatric department at the Lexington, Ky.-based university hospital. The records on the computer contain information from mothers participating in a newborn screening program, the hospital said.

Names, dates of birth, medical history and even in some cases social security numbers of the mothers might have been taken, a hospital spokeswoman said.

After the hospital learned of the theft, it contacted University of Kentucky's police department. An investigation is still ongoing, the hospital said.

"They don't have anything new to report at this time," Kristi Lopez, a spokeswoman for the hospital, told DOTmed News.

The purloined laptop is password-protected, but the hard drive data was not encrypted, Lopez said. Still, she said the motive of the theft doesn't appear to be the medical records.

"We really have no reason to believe the person who stole it knew the information was on there," Lopez said.

Lopez said the hospital has contacted patients whose records were stolen, as required by federal law, and has set up a toll-free number and website to help. The hospital told them they should check their free credit report and take other steps to make sure they haven't been the victims of identity theft.

"[We're] doing everything we can to safeguard privacy of our patients now and in the future," she said.