Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, said a private contractor apparently lost computer tapes containing sensitive information on about 52,000 employees, as well as less-sensitive details on some 83,000 patients, but that the data were not misused and were probably destroyed as trash. Officials said they discovered last month that eight computer tapes with employee data and a ninth tape with patient data had not been returned by a contractor that creates microfiche backups of the data.
Officials have concluded that the tapes, sent to the contractors Baltimore-area facility Dec. 21, were mistakenly left at another site by a courier and later collected as trash and incinerated. Our best information is that the tapes have been destroyed, said William Brody, president of the Johns Hopkins University. Nevertheless, we are concerned that there was ever even a possibility that the information on them was out of authorized hands.
The eight university payroll tapes included Social Security numbers and, in some cases, bank-account information. The patient information included names and dates of birth on all new hospital patients first seen between July 4 and Dec. 18, 2006. Those tapes did not include addresses, Social Security numbers or any kind of financial or medical information, officials said. Letters are being sent to affected individuals. Additional information is available here. -- by Michael Romano