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Kaiser Permanente reports privacy breach to 49,000 patients

December 10, 2013|By Chad Terhune
  • Kaiser Permanente said a missing flash drive from its Anaheim Medical Center contained information on 49,000 patients.
Kaiser Permanente said a missing flash drive from its Anaheim Medical Center… (Kaiser Permanente )

Healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente has notified about 49,000 patients of a privacy breach at its Anaheim Medical Center.

Kaiser said a computer flash drive was reported missing Sept. 25 inside the hospital's nuclear medicine department. The storage drive included patient names, date of birth, their medical record number and the type and amount of a specific medication.

The files didn't contain Social Security numbers or financial information, the company said.

"Kaiser Permanente takes the protection of our members' personal and health information seriously, and we apologize for this occurrence," said Kaiser spokeswoman Peggy Hinz.

The Oakland healthcare system said the missing data weren't encrypted or password-protected. The company advised patients to monitor their medical records "to ensure no fraudulent use of their medical information has taken place."

Ginger Buck, a retiree in San Bernardino County, said Kaiser notified her last week that she was among the 49,000 patients affected by the incident. She's been a Kaiser patient since 1997.

"I'm really angry and devastated," Buck said. "I'm concerned with what may happen with my information down the road."

Kaiser is one of the nation's biggest HMOs with 9.1 million members, and it also operates 38 hospitals across the country. It reported $50.6 billion in revenue last year.

Many health insurers, hospitals and other medical providers continue to struggle with safeguarding sensitive patient information.

In October, AHMC Healthcare Inc. in Alhambra reported that the theft of two laptops from an office had exposed protected health information of roughly 729,000 patients from six Southern California hospitals it runs.

The stolen information included patients' names, insurance information, treatment codes and payment details.

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