Identity-theft warning issued after UK patients' records stolen

Laptop taken in June contained Patients' records from pediatrics

Herald-Leader staff reportAugust 22, 2010 

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    Contact UK
    Those with questions can call (859) 323-6044 or toll-free at 1-877-528-3970. E-mails can be sent to privacy@uky.edu

    Read the UK public notice.

The University of Kentucky apologized and urged more than 2,000 people to be alert for signs of identity theft after medical records were stolen from the Department of Pediatrics Newborn Screening Program.

In a notice posted on its Web site Thursday, UK said it is notifying 2,027 people that a laptop containing patients' personal information was stolen between June 18 and June 21. That information included patient names, dates of birth, diagnoses, mothers' names and, in some cases, Social Security numbers of mothers in the Newborn Screening Program.

The stolen laptop had been stored in a locked private office. The theft was reported to the UK Police Department.

Although UK police said they will not comment until Monday, Mark Birdwhistell, chief external affairs officer for UK HealthCare, said Saturday the investigation is ongoing.

Asked why the theft was made public nearly two months later, Birdwhistell said UK had to work with the state Cabinet for Health and Family and Services and the Inspector General's office and notify the affected patients.

"All appropriate safeguards were taken," he said.

In the public notice on its Web site, UK said, "We do not believe the laptop ... was stolen for the information it contained or that any information has been released or used."

UK said access to the laptop was password-protected but the hard drive was not encrypted.

"The University of Kentucky deeply regrets this incident and continues its commitment to safeguard the privacy of its patients," the notice said. "UK HealthCare has policies and procedures in place to protect patient information, and is currently undertaking additional steps to reinforce those measures."

The university encouraged parents or guardians of patients, notified by mail, to prevent the misuse of their stolen personal information by being alert for signs of identity theft. Those signs include fraudulent or inaccurate information on credit reports; failing to receive bills or other mail; being denied credit; and getting calls or letters from debt collectors.

People were urged to get a free copy of their credit reports by going to www.annualcreditreport.com, calling 877-322-8228 or filling out a request form from www.ftc.gov/credit and mailing it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

Those with questions can call (859) 323-6044 or toll-free at 1-877-528-3970. E-mails can be sent to privacy@uky.edu.

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