Laptop with personal information stolen from Milwaukee hospital

Nov. 30, 2009
Thousands of patients warned that their private data may be compromised


A Milwaukee hospital is warning thousands of its patients that personal information about them may have been stolen.

The theft happened last month at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center on Milwaukee's south side.

More than 6,000 people who were in-patients at St. Luke's will be getting a letter in the mail. It warns them that their name, Social Security number and other information may have landed in the hands of thieves.

Personal Data Theft Letter

They may have spent just one night in the hospital but for thousands of people that may have been enough to put their personal information at risk.

"At this point, they've identified approximately 6,400 patients who had been in-patients at Aurora St. Luke's," Aurora Health Care spokesman Adam Beeson said.

All of the at-risk individuals were cared for there at some point by a hospitalist, a physician other than the patient's primary care doctor, who works for an independent physician group called Cogent Healthcare.

It all stemmed from the theft of one laptop computer.

"The computer was stolen from a locked office in a secure physician office building that's located adjacent to the hospital, and the computer belongs to an employee of Cogent Healthcare of Wisconsin," said Anna Hancock of Cogent Healthcare

The theft immediately raised serious security questions.

"What's missing? What was on this computer? Who are these people and how can we find them?" Beeson said.

The computer was stolen in mid-October, but it took computer analysts until now to identify most of the patients whose records were at risk.

On Wednesday, Cogent began notifying those people, sending out a letter explaining that their name, Social Security number, date of birth, diagnosis codes, medical record number and related information may have been on that computer.

The letter also assured the affects patients that copies of their medical records were not stored on the laptop.

"There is absolutely no danger that Aurora medical records of these patients would be, or could be, in jeopardy through this theft," Beeson said.

So far there's been no evidence that anyone has accessed the information on the computer, but Cogent is offering free credit protection to anyone who may be impacted by this.

If you think you may be one the patients whose information was stolen, you can call 800-229-6680 if you have any questions.

If you were one of the people whose information was stolen, or think you were, WISN 12 News would like to talk to you. Please call 414-937-3331 if you would like to share your story.

Laptop With Personal Information Stolen From St. Luke's

Copyright 2009 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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