The danger of unencrypted protected health information: 55,000 patients’ PHI exposed.

An Indianapolis oncology group has disclosed that data concerning about 55,000 patients was stored on a stolen laptop computer.  A backup copy of the Cancer Care Group’s server was stored on the computer, which was stolen from a locked car.  Among the data stored on the device were patient names, addresses, Social Security Numbers, medical record numbers, and insurance information.  Several employees’ personal information was stored on the compromised device as well.

Reportedly, the Cancer Care Group is one of the largest privately-owned radiation oncology practices in the country.  The practice group stated that they have begun encrypting data stored on portable devices and upgrading their data safety procedures.

This data theft is just the most recent in a long line of private health information security breaches, including several discussed here at the Health Law Sidebar.

For one, South Shore Hospital in Massachusetts settled with the Massachusetts Attorney General in May concerning the loss of unencrypted back-up material which included the protected health information of about 800,000 individuals.


Caitlin Monjeau contributed this post.

Caitlin Monjeau

About Caitlin Monjeau

Caitlin is an associate with our Health Law department in the Albany office. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston University School of Law where she served as Articles Editor for the Boston University Law Review, and is a graduate of Duke University with a major in English and minor in Political Science. Caitlin was an intern with the United States Attorney’s Office, Criminal Division in Boston, MA before joining O’Connell and Aronowitz. Her experience includes clerkships with the Office of the General Counsel at Boston University and New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 3rd Department. She also interned with the Office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. While in law school, Caitlin was honored with the Paul J. Liacos Scholar and G. Joseph Tauro Distinguished Scholar awards. She also received the Best Oralist award in the Stone Moot Court Competition in 2009, and she was the Winner and recipient of the Best Brief Award for the Sutherland Cup Moot Court Competition in 2011.