Hospital Laptop Computer Containing Patient Information Stolen

August 22, 2006

Troy Beaumont Hospital officials are asking for your help Tuesday in recovering a stolen laptop computer containing patient information.

The laptop computer was stolen on Aug. 5, according to hospital officials. The computer was in the rear of the vehicle of a Beaumont Home Care nurse, which was stolen from outside a senior center on Agnes Street on Detroit, said Chris Hengstebeck, director of security at Troy Beaumont Hospital.

The vehicle was recovered about a mile from the location, but the laptop remained missing, according to Hengstebeck.

The Dell D-400 computer (serial No. 5MZ1F61) was turned off at the time and in a nylon case, Hengstebeck said. He said the computer is used to document patient care and includes personal information such as names, addresses, Social Security numbers and insurance information on 28,400 Home Care patients served over the last three years.

Hengstebeck said the hospital's computers are encrypted and password protected, but the nurse was in training and had the user name and password with the computer. He said there is no evidence of anyone trying to access patient information on the laptop. A report was run after it was stolen and authorities disabled the login connection.

"There is no evidence that patient information on the computer has been accessed or misused," said Hengstebeck.

Security officials said if the computer is recovered, they can run a report to determine if patient information was accessed while it was missing.

Hengstebeck emphasized that only Beaumont Home Care patients' information are stored in the computer. Other patients of Beaumont hospitals or those who have undergone outpatient procedures are not affected.

A letter was sent to Home Care patients on Monday to notify them of the incident. Beaumont has arranged for credit monitoring services for one year for patients at the hospital's expense and has also established a hotline and Web site for patients to access with questions or concerns.

Hengstebeck said the theft was reported to Detroit police and they continue to work with officers on the investigation. He said he returned to the area of the theft and spoke with residents and posted fliers in the area searching for the laptop.

Hospital officials are hoping the public can help locate the computer. A $2,500 reward is being offered for information leading to the return of the laptop. Anyone with information should contact Detroit police.

Hengstebeck said Beaumont will take steps to prevent the incident from reoccurring, including reviewing new technology such as automatic lockout and fingerprint access. He said the hospital has retrained all Home Care staff since the incident occurred and has interviewed the nurse whose computer was stolen, who he said was in "dismay."

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