Stolen laptop held personal data of thousands of Allina patients

October 20, 2006

A laptop computer containing the names and Social Security numbers of thousands of Allina Hospitals and Clinics obstetrics patients was stolen from a nurse's car Oct. 8, prompting alerts this week from the health-care provider to the patients.

Company spokesman David Kanihan said Thursday night that there has been no indication any data have been accessed. Two passwords are needed to access the information on the laptop, he said.

Allina, however, acknowledges the potential for identity theft, and it is making resources available to patients regarding identity protection. It also is offering a year's worth of credit monitoring free, according to letters sent to patients this week.

The patients involved are part of the obstetric home-care program provided in the Twin Cities area. Nurses provide care to women with high-risk pregnancies and also make home visits to check on mothers and newborns.

Kanihan said that the actual number of households for which data would have been stored in the computer would be about half of the 28,000 in the program -- or about 14,000 households in all. The information dates to June 2005, he said.

Kanihan said that the nurse whose computer was stolen said she had left the laptop in her car when she went in to a Minneapolis lab to drop off a specimen. The nurse believes she locked the vehicle, he added. The theft was reported to Minneapolis police.

In the future, Kanihan said, the laptops no longer will contain Social Security numbers.

main page ATTRITION feedback