Doctors' Personal Information at Risk After Laptop Theft

Blue Cross says employee broke protocol by saving the data on a laptop

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    A laptop stolen in Chicago in August may lead to cases of physicians with stolen identities.

    A stolen laptop in Chicago might lead to a major leak of almost every U.S. physician’s personal information. That's almost 800,000 doctors risking identity theft.

    Chicago-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, a trade group for Blue Cross health insurance plans, said an employee “broke protocol and transferred to a personal laptop” sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, addresses and identification numbers. That laptop was stolen from a car in Chicago in August.

    “There is no reason to believe the thief intends to use the data to commit identity theft,” the American Medical Association President Dr. James Rohack wrote in a statement being handed out to the nation’s physicians, the Chicago Tribune reported.

    But identity theft remains a big risk, given the high number of physicians (16 to 20 percent) who use their Social Security numbers as their medical-care provider identification.

    “At this point, we have no evidence that the data was misused,” Jeff Smokler, spokesman for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, told the Tribune.

    As a precautionary measure, Blue Cross is offering credit monitoring services to those providers whose Social Security numbers were exposed.

    No patient data was transferred to the laptop from the association’s medical care “provider data repository,” which holds all the physician’s personal information.