Three unencrypted computer backup tapes containing patient billing and employee payroll data have been reported missing from a Nemours Health System facility in Wilmington, Del the organization recently reported. The tapes were stored in a locked cabinet following a computer systems conversion completed in 2004.
The tapes and locked cabinet were reported missing on September 8, 2011 and are believed to have been removed on or about August 10, 2011 during a facility remodeling project.
There is no indication that the tapes were stolen or that any of the information on them has been accessed or misused. Independent security experts retained by Nemours determined that highly specialized equipment and specific technical knowledge would be necessary to access the information stored on these backup tapes. There are no medical records on the tapes.
David J. Bailey, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Nemours, said in a statement that this was an isolated incident unrelated to patient care and safety.
The information on the tapes dates principally between 1994 and 2004 and relates to approximately 1.6 million patients and their guarantors, vendors, and employees at Nemours facilities in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida. The missing backup tapes contained information such as name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, insurance information, medical treatment information, and direct deposit bank account information.
Nemours is notifying individuals who may have been affected and offering them one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection as well as call center support. Additionally, Nemours is taking immediate steps to strengthen its data security practices. These include moving towards encrypting all computer backup tapes and moving non-essential computer backup tapes to a secure off-site storage facility.