• Children's hospital loses personal info of 500,000 patients


    LAKE COUNTY, Fla.,None - In a potential security breach at Nemours Children’s Health System, officials say they have lost the personal information of thousands of Florida patients.

    Company officials say the patient information was being stored in a filing cabinet at a facility in Delaware. Officials said inside the cabinet were nonpassword protected computer backup tapes containing the personal and financial information of 500,000 Florida patients.

    A Nemours official told WFTV reporter Melonie Holt that there is no indication that these backup tapes were stolen or misused, but they do contain billing information, birth dates and social security numbers.

    “Our name, our address, basically everything you need to know about us to steal our identity” is in the files, said one Lake County patient’s mother.

    It has been about eight years since her teenager was a Nemours patient, but yesterday the family received a letter to let them know their personal information may have been compromised.

    “I was very worried about our information being compromised and getting into the wrong hands,” said the mom, who asked to remain anonymous.

    According to the letter, last month, Nemours realized a storage cabinet containing three backup tapes from an old computer system was missing.  It disappeared after a remodeling at a Delaware facility.

    The tapes contained patient billing and financial information on 1.6 million patients and employees from 1994 through 2004.  Medical records were not on the tapes. 

    Officials told WFTV that the tapes are outdated and would require special equipment and expertise to access.

    “My information was on there, too.  I take comfort in the fact this information is extraordinarily difficult to access.  There's no indication the information was stolen or used adversely,” said Dr. David Bailey, Nemours president and CEO.

    “I'm just not happy with the whole situation. I feel like it’s neglect,” said the Lake Mary mother.

    Nemours is taking steps to strengthen its data security.  It plans to begin encrypting all computer backup tapes and will move them to an off-site storage facility.

    Nemours has offered the families of impacted patients one year of free credit monitoring if they are concerned about this missing information.

    This is not the first security breach at a local hospital system.  Earlier this month, more than 2,200 Florida Hospital patients received letters warning them about a records breach.  Three employees who were involved were fired.

    WFTV also found out the former patients were later solicited by lawyers and funeral homes.  In one case, a victim claimed someone stole his identity.

    Next Up: