Tuesday, April 6, 2010

John Muir Health notifies patients of privacy breach in computer theft

WALNUT CREEK — The John Muir hospital system began notifying 5,450 patients of a potential security breach today after the theft of two laptop computers that held personal and health information.

The loss would affect only patients who visited the John Muir physician network perinatal office in Walnut Creek during the past three years, hospital leaders said.

The laptops were stolen from the perinatal office in February and police were notified. Thus far, there have been no reports that patient information was accessed, hospital leaders said.

"The laptops were password-protected and contained data in a format that would not be readily accessible," said Hala Helm, vice president and privacy officer for John Muir Health.

In the letters sent to affected patients today, John Muir recommends that people place a fraud alert on their credit files. The hospital system arranged free identity theft protection for one year, officials said.

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