Sutter Health Informs Patients of Stolen Computer
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 16, 2011 - Sutter Physicians Services (SPS) and Sutter Medical Foundation (SMF) — two affiliates within the Sutter Health network of care — announced the theft of a company-issued password-protected unencrypted desktop computer from SMF’s administrative offices in Sacramento the weekend of Oct. 15, 2011. Following discovery of the theft, Sutter Health immediately reported it to the Sacramento Police Department. It also began an internal investigation. The computer did not contain patient financial records, social security numbers, patients’ health plan identification numbers or medical records. While no medical records themselves were on the computer, some medical information was included for a portion of patients.
Following a thorough internal review, Sutter Health discovered that the stolen computer held a database that included two types of information:
- For approximately 3.3 million patients whose health care provider is supported by Sutter Physician Services (SPS), the database included only the following patient demographic information dated from 1995 to January 2011: name, address, date of birth, phone number and email address (if provided), medical record number and the name of the patient’s health insurance plan. SPS is an organization that provides billing and managed care services for health care providers with which it contracts, including facilities within the Sutter Health network. Patients who think they may be affected should visit www.sutterhealth.org/noticeforpatients to see the list of impacted health care providers.
- For approximately 943,000 SMF patients, the database contained the above demographic data as well as the following information dated from January 2005 to January 2011: dates of services and a description of medical diagnoses and/or procedures used for business operations. Because the data of SMF patients was broader in scope, Sutter Medical Foundation has begun the process to notify these patients by mail. Patients should receive letters no later than Dec. 5.
“Sutter Health holds the confidentiality and trust of our patients in the highest regard, and we deeply regret that this incident has occurred,” said Sutter Health President and CEO Pat Fry. “The Sutter Health Data Security Office was in the process of encrypting computers throughout our system when the theft occurred, and we have accelerated these efforts.”
Encryption technology scrambles each computer’s data in a way that makes it very difficult for an unauthorized user to retrieve the information. Sutter Health is also reinforcing security practices across its system.
Reporters: Comments from Sutter Health President and CEO Pat Fry available for download:
Comment One | Comment Two | Comment Three | Comment Four
About Sutter Physician Services
Established in 1998 as a Sutter Health affiliate based in Sacramento, Sutter Physician Services provides innovative, high-quality, and affordable health care management, administrative services, and business process reengineering solutions to provider groups — primarily Sutter Health’s Medical Foundations – and independent physician practices, facilities and payers.
About Sutter Medical Foundation
Working with more than 1,300 primary and specialty clinicians, Sutter Medical Foundation is a multi-specialty health-care provider delivering comprehensive care to patients at clinics throughout Sacramento, Amador, Nevada, Placer, Solano, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties. Physicians within the network share a dedication to providing exceptional services and empowering patients to play an active role in their health care. The Sutter Medical Foundation network includes: Sutter Medical Group, Sutter Independent Physicians and Sutter North Medical Group.
About Sutter Health
Serving patients and their families in more than 100 Northern California cities and towns, Sutter Health doctors, not-for-profit hospitals and other health care service providers share resources and expertise to advance health care quality and access. The Sutter Medical Network includes many of California’s top-performing, highest quality physician organizations as measured annually by the Integrated Healthcare Association. Sutter-affiliated hospitals are regional leaders in cardiac care, women’s and children’s services, cancer care, orthopedics and advanced patient safety technology.
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