A laptop theft that occurred at a doctor’s home has prompted Dean Health System and St. Mary’s Hospital to offer identity theft protection to more than 3,000 patients. According to Kim Sveum, Dean spokeswoman, the laptop, which was stolen on Nov. 8 did not contain Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers or other financial information
Dean and St. Mary’s released a statement about the situation Monday. and sent letters Saturday to more than 3000 affected patients. All of these patience have had had surgeries from 2001 through Nov. 8.
The doctor ,who has not been named, apparently stored the patient information on her personal computer, against Dean policy, Sveum said. Data on Dean computers are encrypted, she added.
Sveum wouldn’t say if the doctor was disciplined. Dean and St. Mary’s “are undertaking comprehensive reviews of this breach of policy” and reminding employees to protect patient privacy, the statement said.
Along with the laptop, the doctor reported the theft of an iPod, a jewelry box and a purse stolen from her home in Fitchburg, said Lt. Todd Stetzer of the Fitchburg Police Department. Only the purse has been recovered.
This was not the only house breaking in the area and it had occurred through an unlocked patio door.
The patients affected by the theft are being allowed to sign up for one-year identity theft service, including up to $20,000 in reimbursements for expenses from resolving any identity theft issues. However, no problems have been reported so far, and the risk appears to be small, Sveum said.