Last week, St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington, Del., sent letters to nearly 500 maternity patients who had participated in its prenatal and maternity care program Tiny Steps in 2001 or 2002, notifying them that their personal healthcare information may have been compromised because of an inadvertently misplaced computer thumb drive.
According to the hospital's notification, the thumb drive has been recovered and the personal information in question includes the mothers' names, but does not include social security numbers, addresses or telephone numbers, health insurance or billing information or babies' names.
“We want to reassure the patients involved that we have no reason to think the information on the thumb drive was copied or that it might be used in any way to cause them concern,” said Julie A. Hester, president and CEO of St. Francis Healthcare Services.
The hospital is encouraging the patients it is contacting to be vigilant for any signs of identity theft, and to alert the hospital promptly if the patients suspect their personal health information is being misused.
St. Francis also is reviewing its policies and procedures regarding the use of thumb drives and the protection of patient privacy.