UT Physicians, the group practice of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School, has notified 596 patients that some of their protected health information was on an unencrypted laptop that is missing.

The laptop, which when used was connected to an electromyography machine that records electrical activity of muscles, was last used on July 19 and found missing from a locked closet at an orthopedic clinic on August 2, according to an announcement from the university. The laptop contained hand and arm image data, names, dates of birth and medical record numbers. No financial, insurance or Social Security information was on the machine.

UT Physicians in the past two years has encrypted more than 5,000 laptops and the missing laptop fell through the cracks. The university now is conducting a search of all clinics and offices to ensure no laptops or other storage devices attached to medical equipment remain unencrypted.

Because the risk of fraud is considered low, UT Physicians did not offer affected patients paid credit and/or identity theft protection services, according to a spokesperson. "While there were no health insurance policy numbers on the drive, as a precaution UT Physicians encouraged the affected patients to review their explanation of benefits and other correspondence from their insurance carrier and to report any suspicious activty immediately to their carrier."

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