Thefts that took place at Walmart pharmacies during civil unrest in May may have compromised some patient information, according to notice published in the classified advertisement section of several local newspapers Thursday.
After George Floyd died in May while under police restraint, peaceful protests and looting dotted the country and sparked calls for police reform and to address racism in various areas, including in the healthcare industry.
Some healthcare businesses were affected by the looting, including some Walmart locations.
"A number of retail establishments across the country have recently been impacted by widespread civil unrest," Walmart's notice reads, including a subset of the company's pharmacies in California, Illinois and North Carolina. "Although the stores were physically secured, individuals broke through the locked doors and store windows and caused damage inside these stores."
In some cases that included theft of medications packaged for pick-up, along with documents or labels with patients' names, addresses and phone numbers, as well as medication and prescriber information, according to one notice published in the Minnesota Star Tribune.
Versions of the notice also appeared in Gainesville Sun and the Tallahassee Democrat in Florida, the Daily Reflector in North Carolina, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Roanoke Times in Virginia, and the Waco Tribune-Herald in Texas.
Walmart is sending individual notices to patients who may have had data exposed in the thefts.
The company has found no evidence to suggest affected patient information has been misused, according to the notice.
Intruders seemingly were targeting prescriptions, not medical paperwork, electronic devices or patient files, according to a Walmart spokesperson, who shared a copy of the letter sent to patients.
"On behalf of Walmart, I want you to know that we take this matter very seriously and we are fully committed to protecting the privacy and security of our patients' health information," reads the letter, signed by Will Center, director of health and wellness HIPAA compliance at Walmart. "We maintain physical safeguards intended to safeguard patient information from theft. We are working with local law enforcement to continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding these events."
Walmart did not respond to an inquiry asking how many patients the company planned to notify.