Police in Lafayette, Colo., are investigating after at least 14 patients of a medical clinic owned by Boulder Community Hospital received anonymous letters informing them that their medical records were taken from unsecured recycling bins outside the clinic.

The letters, which included copies of the records, urged patients to report violations of federal medical information privacy rules. The stolen information included patients' medical records, including names, date of birth and Social Security numbers, according to published reports from local media outlets. Boulder Community Hospital has installed lockable recycling bins; two of eight bins were not locked, according to one report.

The hospital also has informed the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights of the data breach and has hired risk management firm Kroll Inc. to assist in investigating the incident.

"We learned that while we have good policies for protecting patients' information, those policies weren't really being followed," a hospital spokesperson told Denver's ABC News affiliate. The spokesperson told the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper that the hospital would assume all liability for any items that may be purchased using a patient's information.

--Joseph Goedert


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