St. Joseph Health of Sonoma County officials today said a thumb drive containing the X-ray records of more than 33,700 patients was stolen during a burglary at an outpatient radiology facility in Santa Rosa earlier this month.
The thumb drive containing 33,702 patient records was taken from a staff member’s locker at the former Redwood Regional Medical Group’s office at 121 Sotoyome Drive on June 2, St Joseph Health spokeswoman Katy Hillenmeyer said.
The medical group joined the St Joseph Health network on April 1 and the back-up records of X-rays between Feb. 2, 2009, and this May 13 were going to be transferred from Redwood Regional to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s electronic medical records system, Hillenmeyer said.
Information on the thumb drive included the patient’s first and last names, gender, medical record number, date of birth, date and time of service, area of the body X-rayed, the X-ray technologist’s name and the radiation level required to produce the X-ray in compliance with patient safety standards, Hillenmeyer said.
The stolen information did not include patients’ Social Security numbers, financial information, insurance data or diagnoses, she said. St. Joseph Health reported the theft to the California Department of Public Health on June 9 and an internal investigation by St. Joseph Health and Santa Rosa police is underway, Hillenmeyer said.
St Joseph Health reported the theft, discovered on June 3, to the Department of Public Health within the allowable five-day business period, Hillenmeyer said.
St. Joseph Health used that time to make sure there was no scenario other than a burglary to explain the missing thumb drive, she said.
St. Joseph Health officials also had to be sure of the number of patients affected and eliminate any duplicate X-ray records. Hillenmeyer said: “We did a detailed analysis of the records to give an accurate account of the number of patients and what records were in the thumb drive.”
No other imaging records other than X-rays were on the thumb drive, she said:
“I know of no reason to suspect it was taken by an employee.”
Hillenmeyer said food in the break room also was taken during the burglary. The thumb drive had been placed inside a zipper pouch in the unlocked locker so it wouldn’t be misplaced.
Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital is mailing personal letters this week to all patients affected by the theft.
Hospital officials have no indication that any of the patients’ information has been used in an unauthorized or improper manner, but as a precaution and courtesy, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital is offering credit monitoring and identity theft protection services to the affected patients at no cost for one year, Hillenmeyer said.
Todd Salnas, president of St. Joseph Health in Sonoma County, said:
“We take our obligation to protect patients’ privacy very seriously, and apologize for any concerns or inconvenience to patients and their families that this causes. … Following this burglary, we immediately heightened security measures and training at our new Sotoyome Drive facility, and are committed to preventing such an intrusion from happening again.”
Patients or their families affected by the records theft may call a hotline staffed by Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital representatives from Kroll, a global leader in risk mitigation and response that the hospital has commissioned to help the patients.
The experts are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT at (866) 779-0488.
— James Lanaras, Bay City News