Healthcare Business News

Patient-monitoring company reports laptop theft

By Joseph Conn
Posted: November 21, 2012 - 2:15 pm ET

Alere Home Monitoring, a business unit of publicly traded Alere, a Waltham, Mass.-based provider of patient monitoring and management services, has notified about 116,000 individuals of theft of a company-owned laptop containing electronic patient records.

The laptop was stolen from a locked vehicle belonging to an Alere employee, according to an Alere news release. The records included patient names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and diagnostic codes.

"Alere Home Monitoring apologizes to those affected for any concern, inconvenience or risk that this incident may cause," Alere Home Monitoring President Jon Russell said. "We regret that this incident occurred and are taking appropriate steps to protect individuals who may have been affected by this breach and to limit or prevent such breaches in the future."

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The statement did not say when or where the loss occurred or when it was reported, or whether the computer was password-protected or the data was encrypted. Russell could not be reached for comment at deadline. The 116,000 individuals notified were offered free credit monitoring for one year, according to the release.

So far this year, the number of major breaches of patient-identifiable healthcare records is trending downward, according to an official list of breaches affecting 500 or more individuals posted on the so-called wall of shame on HHS' Office for Civil Rights' website.

The civil rights office is charged with enforcing federal health information privacy and security rules. According to the breach list, more than 1.9 million individuals' records have been exposed in 87 larger breaches reported so far this year. The list contains summaries of 507 breaches involving the exposure of records of nearly 21.3 million individuals since the civil rights office began record-keeping for breaches in 2009.

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