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Sutter Health Announces Data Breach

November 16, 2011
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Sutter Physicians Services (SPS) and Sutter Medical Foundation (SMF) — two affiliates within the Sacramento, Calif.-based 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 and began an internal investigation.

Sutter says 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.

According to Sutter, the stolen computer held a database that included two types of information:

1. 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.

2. 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 and said it should come no latter than Dec. 5.

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