A break-in at the University of Kentucky's largest healthcare center has prompted fears that thieves may now be able to perpetrate identity theft.
According to a report from the medical website Dotmed News, a laptop was stolen from a locked pediatric office at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington in June, and as a result, more than 2,000 patients may have had their personal information exposed. The computer was protected by a password, but none of the data on it was encrypted in any way.
The report said that the laptop contained detailed personal information - including names, dates of birth, medical history and, in some cases, Social Security numbers - for mothers that recently participated in a newborn screening program. After the hospital learned of the theft, it immediately contacted the University of Kentucky's police department, and an investigation is still ongoing. However, hospital officials say that they have no reason to believe the motive of the theft was to obtain any personal information or medical records.
"We really have no reason to believe the person who stole it knew the information was on there," Kristi Lopez, a spokeswoman for the hospital, told the website.
The medical center has already contacted patients whose records were stolen, as is required by federal law, the report said. In addition, it has set up both a toll-free phone number and a website where concerned people can get more information. However, it has not offered any kind of credit monitoring services to victims, and instead urged those affected to check their credit reports to ensure that everything is as it should be.
"[We're] doing everything we can to safeguard privacy of our patients now and in the future," Lopez told the site.
A separate report on the incident from the industry news site Health Data Management said that in addition to urging consumers to keep an eye on their credit report, the hospital will also beef up its own security measures. However, it did not specify what those extra precautions would be. If a consumer is concerned with the safety of their identity, it may be advisable for them to sign up for credit monitoring service. This will alert them to any attempts to open a line of credit using their personal information.