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June 3rd, 2008

Patients Personal Data Compromised In Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Sensitive information on about 1,000 patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals was exposed in a security breach, rising identity theft concerns and an investigation by the Army. The medical center learned of the breach on May 21 from an outside data mining company, which officials did not identify.

Walter Reed officials were notified of a possible disclosure of personally identifiable information through a Peer to Peer (P2P) network of approximately 1000 Military Health System beneficiaries. Names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and other information was released, hospital officials said Monday. The computer file that was breached did not include information such as medical records, or the diagnosis or prognosis for patients, they said. Preliminary results of an on-going investigation have identified a computer from which the data was apparently compromised.

Data security personnel from Walter Reed and the Department of the Army continue to investigate the source and causes for the information compromise. Walter Reed officials declined to explain exactly how the information was compromised, pending an ongoing investigation by the hospital and the Army.

The hospital said it is working to notify all of the people named in the data file. Letters or e-mails were being sent out, beginning Monday. Walter Reed plans to offer free credit protective services to patients whose information was revealed. The hospital also has set up a hot line for people to call to see if their information was disclosed (1-877-854-8542, ext. 9). A 24/7 hot-line has been established in the Combined Operations Center, 202-782-8333 or 877-854-8542 ext 9 and a info site on the web page is also being created.

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