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Patient medical records compromised after laptops stolen from office

The medical records of about 729,000 people have been compromised after two laptops were stolen from a Southland office.
October 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The medical records of more than 700,000 people have been compromised following the theft of two laptops from an office in Alhambra, according to AHMC Healthcare Inc.

People are now being asked to check their credit reports to see if there has been any sort of fraud.

The missing information includes: patient names, Social Security numbers, Medicare/insurance identification numbers, diagnosis/procedure codes and insurance/patient payments.

Patients affected by this record breach have received treatment at any of the following six AHMC hospitals: San Gabriel Valley Medical Center, Garfield Medical Center, Monterey Park Hospital, Greater El Monte Community Hospital, Whittier Hospital Medical Center and Anaheim Regional Medical Center.

Alhambra police say the crime happened on Oct. 12. A homeless man somehow got into the billing office of AHMC and stole two password-protected laptops. Those laptops contained the medical records of about 729,000 patients. AHMC officials say only about 10 percent of those records have Social Security numbers listed on them.

Police are now looking for the well-known transient, 36-year-old Christopher Lee Brown. They say he defeated the locks and got into the building.

"He had a girlfriend that used to work in that building, and they had had their differences in the past, and that's how we think that he knew where to go," said Sgt. Jerry Johnson with the Alhambra Police Department.

AHMC released a statement, which reads in part:

"AHMC Healthcare Inc. had recently engaged a third-party auditing company to perform a security risk assessment and is working through its recommendations, and in that connection will be expediting a policy of encrypting all laptops. In taking these actions, AHMC Healthcare Inc. is strengthening the high standards it maintains for safeguarding protected health information."

Inez Arakaki's diabetic husband came to the emergency room at San Gabriel Valley Medical Center last year. Now, they're concerned his identity has been stolen.

"It's scary to think about somebody having your information," said Arakaki. "It takes years for you to get back your stuff. You know, you feel violated regardless of whatever it is, whether it's home invasion or identity theft."

Officials with the hospital corporation are apologizing to all of their patients and add that they have no evidence that any of the records have actually been accessed or used in any manner.

Patients with questions or concerns, or who wish to ascertain if their information was on the stolen laptops were asked to contact AHMC Healthcare Inc.'s Privacy Department at 1-855-977-6678.


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