The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services is notifying 652 clients after a psychologist’s laptop computer was stolen.
The laptop of Dr. Sunil Kakar was stolen in Gig Harbor, Wash., and later found at a pawn shop in the town. Protected information on the computer included names, identification numbers, psychological evaluations and diagnoses, birth and service dates, addresses and the last four digits of Social Security numbers.
There is no evidence that files on the password-protected but unencrypted laptop were accessed. However, “We are unable to determine whether the data was accessed or further copied or disclosed,” Kakar says in the patient notification letter. The letter explains steps that patients can take to protect against identity theft.
Asked if the Department of Social and Health Services was offering paid protective services to affected patients, Privacy Officer Kristal Wiitala gave Health Data Management the following statement:
“We followed HIPAA rules for information we provided to clients about what steps they should take to protect themselves from potential harm resulting from the breach. We did not offer paid credit or identity protection services as there are many options available without cost. The HIPAA rules do not require we take that step. We received no information to show that the level of data possibly available on this laptop would have exposed the affected clients to identity theft.”
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