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Confidential Information Concerning Thousands of Patients Placed at Risk this Week

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This past week, two medical providers disclosed serious data breaches involving patient information. The largest data breach involved confidential information concerning 38,000 members of a Kaiser Permanente Health Plan. In October, thieves in California stole a laptop computer from a company employee which contained,

information such as the name, gender, date of birth, member identification numbers and physician information of approximately 38,000 members

of Kaiser Permanent Colorado. The company first disclosed the theft this week although the theft occurred on October 4, 2006.

Also,

in a similar incident, two computers containing health records on more than 7,000 people in the Indiana Breast and Cervical Cancer Program were stolen earlier this month. The computers were taken from a health center in Jeffersonville, Ind., that manages the state program, said Erik Deckers, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Health.

The compromised information includes the names, Social Security numbers and medical histories of the affected individuals, Deckers said.

The Privacy Rights Clearninghouse has a helpful resource for any victim who has to deal with a data breach which may place them at risk of identity theft. If you receive a letter indicating that your identity has possibly been compromised, the organization makes six general suggestions about what to do next:

1. Figure out what type of breach has occurred

2. Notify the credit bureaus and establish a fraud alert

3. Order your credit reports

4. Examine your credit reports carefully

5. Continue to monitor your credit reports

6. Consider a security freeze

The fact sheet provides sigificant additional detail as well as other resources in case you receive a letter suggesting that your identity may have been compromised. So for all 45,000 patients who received notification of a data breach, I suggest that you review this web site containing valuable guidance about what to do next.