Medical data from more than 3,000 patients at Dean Health System and St. Mary's Hospital were stored in a laptop stolen from a doctor's house, prompting Dean and St. Mary's to offer the patients identify theft protection.
The laptop, taken Nov. 8, didn't contain the people's Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers or other financial information, said Kim Sveum, Dean spokeswoman.
Dean and St. Mary's released a statement about the situation Monday. They sent letters Saturday to 3,288 patients who may have been affected. All had surgeries from 2001 through Nov. 8.
The doctor, whom Sveum wouldn't identify, put the patient information on her personal computer, against Dean policy, Sveum said. Data on Dean computers are encrypted, she said.
Sveum wouldn't say if the doctor was disciplined. Dean and St. Mary's "are undertaking comprehensive reviews of this breach of policy" and reminding employees to protect patient privacy, the statement said.
In addition to the laptop, the doctor reported a purse, an iPod and a jewelry box stolen from her home in Fitchburg, said Lt. Todd Stetzer of the Fitchburg Police Department. Only the purse, found in a neighboring yard, has been recovered.
Entry was gained through an unlocked patio door, Stetzer said. A nearby home was broken into the same day, he said.
Dean and St. Mary's are letting affected patients sign up for free for a one-year identity theft service, including up to $20,000 in reimbursements for expenses from resolving any identity theft issues.
No patients have reported any problems so far, and the risk appears to be small, Sveum said.