A breach of protected health information has children's health system Nemours notifying 1.6 million patients, parents or guardians, vendors and employees between 1994 and 2004 at its five facilities in Delaware, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"On September 8, 2011, we learned that a locked tape storage cabinet containing computer backup tapes was missing," the delivery system said in a notice to patients. "We immediately began an investigation and now believe the cabinet was removed from our Wilmington facility on or about August 10, 2011, during a remodeling project. To date, we have been unable to locate the storage cabinet. We believe the cabinet contained three unencrypted backup tapes from a computer system we stopped using in 2004. No medical records were on the backup tapes, but they did contain patient billing information, including name, date of birth, insurance information, medical treatment information, and Social Security number." Some employee payroll data and vendor information, such as direct deposit bank account information, also was on the tapes.

Nemours is now moving toward encrypting backup tapes and moving non-essential backup tapes to a secure off-site storage facility. "We have no reason to believe that the cabinet was stolen or that the information on the backup tapes has been accessed or used improperly," according to the patient notice. "It would take highly specialized equipment and specific technical expertise to access any of the information on the tapes."

The delivery system began notifying patients on Oct. 7 and expects the process to be complete by Oct. 26. It is offering one year of paid credit monitoring and identity theft protection services.

 

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