Kaiser Permanente patient data stolen

Information regarding approximately 15K patients was stolen in December


SACRAMENTO, Calif. --

Information regarding approximately 15,000 Kaiser Permanente patients was stolen in December, the organization said Tuesday.

Names and medical record numbers -- and in some cases age, gender, phone number and general information regarding their medical care -- were taken Dec. 1 when an external electronic data storage device containing the data was stolen from a Kaiser Permanente employee's car at the employee's home in Sacramento, said Kristin Chambers, vice president of compliance and privacy for Kaiser Permanente.

"We regret any inconvenience or worry this incident may cause," Chambers said in a prepared statement.

Kaiser said Tuesday there were no patient Social Security numbers or financial information on the device, adding that there is no evidence that the information was used inappropriately. Affected patients have been notified by Kaiser Permanente.

"Because we have no reason at this point to believe that the device was stolen for the information on it, nor that the information could easily be used for fraud or other criminal activity, we are not recommending that our patients take any further action related to this specific incident," Chambers said.

The employee notified Kaiser Permanente of the theft on Dec. 8.

Chambers said the employee was authorized to access the information involved as part of her job. However, the use of the device was unauthorized and violated Kaiser Permanente's policies regarding data storage, and the employee was terminated.

Kaiser Permanente conducted an investigation and notified state and federal regulatory agencies.

The theft was also reported to the Sacramento Police Department.

Kaiser has established a toll-free number at 1-877-608-0050 for those with questions. Patients covered by Medicare may call 1-800-443-0815. Those in need of a TTY can call 1-800-777-1370.

Copyright 2010 by KSBW.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.