Stolen laptop puts data at risk for 1,100 Washington University patients

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The Washington University medical school has sent letters to about 1,100 patients after a surgeon's laptop was stolen from a lecture hall during a conference in Argentina.

The patients had been treated by the surgeon since 2002, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The laptop contained patient names, birth dates, medical information including diagnoses and surgeries and 39 Social Security numbers. The university said it does not believe the laptop was taken for the information it contained.

The university is providing identity-protection services to the affected patients and plans to re-train staff on information security.

Laptops and mobile devices are particularly vulnerable to patient data breaches. A whopping 94 percent of the 80 participating healthcare organizations in a survey by The Ponemon Institute said they had experienced at least one data breach that they were aware of in the past two years. That report put the total cost of healthcare breaches at $6.78 billion annually.

Yet, as FierceHealthcare has reported, only 46 percent of hospitals have a security strategy for mobile devices.

To learn more:
- read the Post-Dispatch story

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