Electronic Health Records


Beth Israel Deaconess reveals health data breach

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- The personal health information of close to 4,000 patients at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has been compromised after a physician’s personal laptop was stolen on May 22, says the Boston Globe. BIDMC officials could not be reached for comment.

According to BIDMC officials, the laptop contained a tracking device, but it has yet to be recovered. However, police has arrested a suspect. Globe reporter Kay Lazar reported that officials had hired a national forensic firm to determine whether patient data had been compromised and found no incidence of misuse.

It would seem that health data breaches at BIDMC are becoming an annual occurrence. Last summer, the hospital notified more than 2,000 patients that a hospital laptop infected with a virus was transmitting their information to an unknown location.

At this time, it’s unclear what patient information comprised the records as John Halamka, CIO of BIDMC, was quoted as saying that neither Social Security numbers, financial data, medication information, nor complete medical records was present on the laptop. Hospital policy dictates that its own computers possess encryption, but the laptop in question belonged to the physician.

Although employees of the hospital are authorized to use their own devices for work purposes, until this point BIDMC hasn’t mandated that they use proper encryption, a policy that is currently be reviewed.

Victims of the breach will receive a letter through the mail and have access to a toll-free phone number, (855) 781-0038, as early as Monday morning.

Stay tuned as more information becomes available.

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