5,000 affected by hospice HIPAA breach

By Erin McCann
04:30 PM
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3 laptops stolen from company facility

Hospice of Alamance Caswell and LifePath Home Health group have notified 5,370 patients affected by a HIPAA breach after three unencrypted laptops containing protected health information were stolen from a company facility.

Officials at the Burlington, N.C.-based hospice group announced Thursday that the incident occurring Feb. 24 involved a break-in at their main office building. During the break-in, three laptops containing personal health information of patients were stolen. Officials say the laptops contained unencrypted emails that contained limited patient health information. The laptops have not been recovered.
 
 
Paper medical and billing records were also accessible during the robbery, officials say. The police investigation did not reveal any evidence suggesting these records were taken. These paper medical records contained patient names, address, phone numbers, dates of birth, Medicare or other health insurance number, prescribed medications and full or partial Social Security numbers.
 
 
"We sincerely regret that this incident has occurred, and we are committed to prevent future such occurrences. We appreciate our patients’ and families’ support during this time,” said Peter Barcus, executive director of the hospice group, in a press statement. 
 
Since the August 2009 Breach notification rule, healthcare providers in North Carolina have seen 14 breaches compromising the personal health information of nearly 100,000 patients.