Missing Riverside hospital laptop may have contained data of 7,900 patients

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- An unencrypted laptop that was reported missing from Riverside County Regional Medical Center in December may have contained personal information of nearly 7,900 patients.

Jan Remm, the hospital's chief compliance officer, said the laptop was reported missing on Dec. 1 by a department manager, and staff immediately notified police. Staff also conducted a thorough internal investigation.

The patients who may be affected received ophthalmology and dermatology services at the hospital between Jan. 26, 2012 and Nov. 26, 2014.

The laptop may have contained information such as patient names, addresses, social security numbers, birth dates, health plan policy numbers and even medical diagnoses.

But Remm said there is no reason to believe the laptop's patient-related files were accessed or used in any way.

"We are taking significant measures to safeguard patient privacy and to restrict unauthorized access to computers and devices that potentially contain patient data," Remm said. "The privacy of our patients is a fundamental priority in our organization and part of our commitment to quality healthcare."

She added that the hospital has strengthened inventory controls to prevent future loss or thefts of electronic devices and all laptops are now being encrypted to safeguard patient data.

Letters are being mailed out to patients who may have been affected by the potential data breach.

Hospital officials also want to encourage those concerned about their personal information should closely monitor their credit reports by calling (877) 322-8228 or get a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com. The three credit reporting agencies offer one free report per year.

Patients concerned about where their information is being stored at the medical center can also call (866) 313-7993 Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m.

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