Utah hospital billing records from over 2 million patients stolen

June 10, 2008

Associated Press


Billing records of 2.2 million patients at the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics were stolen from a vehicle after a courier failed to immediately take them to a storage center, authorities said Tuesday.

The records, described only as backup information tapes, contained Social Security numbers of 1.3 million people treated at the university over the last 16 years, said Lorris Betz, senior vice president for health sciences.

Betz said people would be notified by a letter at a cost of $500,000 just for stamps and envelopes. The hospital also pledged free credit monitoring.

The records were in a gray metal box. The courier, whose name was not released, picked them up in his Ford Explorer on June 1. But instead of driving directly to a storage center, he worked a second job and then went home, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said.

The next day, he discovered that someone had broken into his Ford Explorer outside his Kearns home and taken the box, Winder said.

Authorities declined to say how easy or difficult it would be to read the records. They refused to describe the format or whether the information was on a disk. The sheriff believes the thief probably thought the box contained money.

The driver worked for Perpetual Storage Inc. for 18 years and was fired.

Eighty percent of the 2.2 million people live in Utah or Idaho, Betz said. The hospital is offering a $1,000 reward for the records.

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