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Computer with patient records is stolen from hospital

At least 667 patient records were on the laptop computer, which was taken from Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey. Letters were sent to patients affected by the theft.

March 06, 2011|By Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times

A laptop computer containing more than 660 patient names and diagnostic information was stolen last month from Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, Los Angeles County health officials confirmed Friday.

At least 667 patient records were on the stolen laptop, which included names, dates of birth and medical information, said Michael Wilson, a spokesman for the county Department of Health Services.

The laptop, which was not encrypted, had been attached to a diagnostic machine that performs electromyographies. The device helps diagnose neuromuscular disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.

Staff members at the county-run hospital became aware of the stolen laptop Feb. 24, Wilson said, and letters were sent to patients affected by the theft. The hospital has begun a review of portable electronic devices and is working to prevent future occurrences.

"It's unfortunate," Wilson said. "We regret the incident. It's an unusual occurrence, but we've taken steps to do the best remediation we can."

Anyone with questions on the privacy breach can call (877) 726-2461 starting Monday.

rong-gong.lin@latimes.com

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