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May 5th, 2008

Stolen General Internal Medicine Laptop Exposes Nearly 12000 Patients

A laptop stolen from a doctors office containing the social security numbers of patients and office staff was stolen recently in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County. Medical practice in East Hempfield Township is contacting nearly 12,000 of its patients to notify them that a computer was stolen from the office April 17. The computer contained the names, addresses, telephone numbers and Social Security numbers of many of the patients who visited the office of General Internal Medicine of Lancaster, 2301 Columbia Ave., from 2005 through 2007.

On April 17, office workers were taking paper records bearing basic patient information and scanning them into a laptop computer so the records could then be transferred to a disk. After that process was completed, the office planned to burn the paper records. An employee left the area where the scanning was being done for a brief period the morning of April 17. When that employee returned, the laptop was gone. The computer didn’t contain the information of all (12,000) patients, but they notified everyone from that three-year period just to be safe.

East Hempfield Township police said someone stole the computer from an unlocked conference room inside the Physicians Alliance office building on Columbia Avenue last week. They suspect whoever stole the laptop wanted the computer more than the information on it. Investigators also said the personal information is not easy to access.

The General Internal Medicine of Lancaster website prominently displayed a “Fraud Alert” graphic in the middle of the home page. Anyone with questions is urged to call General Internal Medicine at 397-2738.

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