New York City Health & Hospitals Corp. is notifying 1.7 million patients, staff, employees of vendors and others who received services at two hospitals and two clinics during the past 20 years that some of their protected health information has been breached.

Computer backup tapes were stolen from the truck of a contractor on Dec. 23, according to a HHC statement and letter of notification to affected patients. Types of protected information on the tapes included name, address, telephone number, Social Security number, medical records, insurance details, diagnosis and treatment information, and birth, admission and discharge dates. “The data in the stolen files is not readily accessible without highly specialized technical expertise and data-mining tools, and there is no evidence to indicate that the information has been accessed and misused,” according to the HHC statement.

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