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O.C. St. Jude warns patients of stolen data

April 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
St. Jude Heritage Medical Group in Fullerton sent out thousands of letters warning patients that their medical records may have been compromised due to five stolen hospital computers.Officials say more than 20,000 patients may have had their personal information stolen after a break-in at the St. Jude Heritage Healthcare Clinical Management Services building in Fullerton. Police say that thieves stole several computers.

"The data that was stolen originated from private practice physicians. St. Jude Heritage Healthcare is an administrative foundation that contracts with physicians so that's why the data was there," said Kevin Andrus, a St. Jude Heritage Healthcare representative.

Authorities say that the stolen patient data included social security numbers, dates of birth and in some cases, health related information.

"That's horrible. What if my name was on there? They find out and my records, my s.s. and they would steal something from me too? I don't like it," said Orange resident Phillip Cequena.

"The calls that we're getting are from people who are just worried, and we completely understand that, and we're worried for them," said Andrus.

Officials say that they've hired a company to do credit monitoring and credit restoration for each impacted patient for the next year.

"We don't have any firm leads that are pointing to any suspect," said Fullerton police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.

The theft happened nearly two months ago. St. Jude Heritage just started sending warning letters out to patients last week. Officials insist that it took so long because they had to figure out exactly which patients were impacted.

"It took several weeks as you can imagine to recreate the data that was stolen so that we can identify and make certain that we were identifying exactly who was going to be impacted," said Andrus.

So far, there have been no reports of personal information being used illegally by others, but authorities urge patients to take precaution.

"Be aware of what their credit report is saying, to consider things like fraud alerts or even credit reporting," advised Goodrich.

If you have questions about your personal information, call the St. Jude Heritage Healthcare's hotline at 1-800-627-8106.


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