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Privacy Compliance & Data Security Information on Data Breach Prevention and the Appropriate Response

Health Data for 1.7 Million NYC Hospital Patients, Staff and Others At Risk

Posted in Data Theft

On February 10, 2011, the New York City public hospital system filed a lawsuit against its records management contractor over allegations that the contractor permitted the theft of unencrypted data tapes storing health information and other personal data on some 1.7 million patients and staff. The New York City hospital system disclosed the breach, which occurred on December 23, 2010, for the first time in a February 11, 2011, statement. The complaint alleges that six data tapes, storing HIPAA protected information and other personal data for approximately 1.7 million patients at three facilities, as well as for employees, vendors, contractors and other service providers, were stolen from a van left unlocked in Manhattan by the hospital system’s records management contractor. In a statement, the hospital system said that, while the stolen tapes have not been found, no fraud has been reported and the tapes are protected by a proprietary system that makes the data difficult to access.