Laptop theft risks info of 30,000 hospital patients

Data on more than 30,000 University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center patients is at risk with the recent theft of a laptop from a faculty member's home, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The laptop, which was stolen sometime between April 30 and May 1, contained medical information of 10,000 of the patients. Among the stolen information were names and Social Security numbers.

The provider mailed letters to affected patients on June 28. In response, the hospital said in a website statement posted this week that it will speed up encryption efforts for all of its computers and will reinforce privacy policies regarding the handling of patient information with its employees.

The hospital also is offering free credit-monitoring services to all of the affected patients.

The news is just the latest chapter in what seems to be an ongoing medical data-breach saga. Last month, the personal information of more than 2,100 Boston Children's Hospital patients was put in jeopardy after an employee lost a laptop containing unencrypted health information while attending a conference in Buenos Aires.

Meanwhile, personal data on more than 228,000 Medicaid recipients in South Carolina was put at risk in early April when a state Department of Health & Human Services employee sent the information to his personal, unsecured email account.

And in late March, personal information on nearly 800,000 Utahns was put at risk after hackers broke into the state's Medicaid database, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The incident exposed the names and birth dates for 500,000 citizens, as well as the Social Security numbers for an additional 280,000 people.

To learn more:
- read the Houston Chronicle article
- here's the hospital's statement on its website
- here's the Salt Lake Tribune post

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