Hard drives containing hundreds of patient files stolen

March 23, 2007

By Connie Thompson


KOMO 4 News has learned a thief or thieves have stolen computer hard drives with personal files on hundreds of local patients.

Police aren't saying much, but it appears to involve someone that has access to offices in the building.

This week, Swedish Urology Group notified hundreds of patients and former patients about potential identity theft at its office in Seattle.

"I'm worried about my social security number and my credit rating," said one patient who wished to be identified by her first name, Kaye, out of privacy concerns.

She got the letter yesterday.

The Swedish Urology Group is one of dozens inside the Madison Medical Tower in the First Hill neighborhood of Seattle.

In its letter to patients, the group says "three external hard drives, which we use to back up our data, were stolen from our locked office suite."

"Although we have security measures in place, the hard drives were taken as a result of an unforeseen intentional criminal activity."

Data Goes Back As Long As 3 or 4 Years

Based on our contact with patients and former patients who got the notice, the stolen computer go back as long as 3 or 4 years.

It's another example of how easily identity theft can happen, because in this case there's no sign of forced entry. The property management has sent notices to every office in the building, alerting them of the theft and urging them to make sure valuables are secured before the offices are closed for business.

The Property Management company, CB Richard Ellis, sent the following statement to KOMO 4 News by email:

"We are very concerned anytime there is an incident involving a tenant on our property. We have very sound security procedures in place, and are constantly reevaluating them to ensure that the tenants' premises are secure. We are aware of one incident in which hard drives were taken from one particular tenant. We are cooperating with the local authorities and with that tenant to help solve this crime. We are unaware of any other incidents of theft other than a small amount of petty cash which was removed from an unlocked drawer. We highly value our tenants and have systems in place to communicate with them on a regular basis. "

No Suspects

While no suspects have been observed, the fact that no one broke in raises suspicions that whoever took the hard drives may have had a master key.

Because of the complexity of its hard drive technology, The Swedish Urology Group stresses the likelihood of patient information being retrieved is extremely low.

The hard drives not only had patient information, but also contained information of the doctors and staff.

Everyone who received the alert this week is advised to file a fraud alert with the credit reporting agencies.

They should also closely monitor their credit reports and account statements, and keep this notice about the theft in a file in the event it's needed later. Seattle Police are investigating.

Not Part Of Swedish Medical Center

It's important to point out that Swedish Urology Group is an independent company. While it works with many doctors at Swedish Hospital, it is not a part of Swedish Medical Center.

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