It's got a national reputation as place that can help even the most dire coma, stroke and brain injury patients recover movement and memory.
But L.A. County's Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey recently suffered some memory loss of its own when it was discovered that a laptop with the names, dates of birth and treatment information of 667 patients over nearly 4 years has gone “missing.”
Oops. But wait, there's more:
While, normally, like, if our medical laptop went missing, you wouldn't be able to get much because our good stuff is behind a password, this particular set of patient info was “unencrypted,” a Health Services rep told the Weekly.
So even if whomever ended up with the thing was just after a quick sale on Craigslist, say, all those names, all that intimately private info, might have been out there for the browsing.
The county Department of Health Services is making the breach known under federal law.
Patient info spanned from July , 2007 to Feb. 17, 2011. On Feb. 23 the laptop went missing from a patient diagnostic area, the DHS states. The next day the sheriff's department notified. And more than month later, priorities being what they are, you get to know.
(Actually, the department says patients were mailed a letter about this March 1).
On top of all that, DHS says it's retraining employees on laptop security, we presume, and making sure all such data is encrypted from now on. Wow, DHS, just keep it in the cloud already. Ever heard of Google Documents?
Anyway, here's the quote from DHS director Mitchell Katz:
As a health care organization we are committed to protecting patient privacy and take great steps to ensure the security of electronic health information, We have a duty to protect patients' medical information, and we have implemented measures to prevent a future occurrence of this type.
You can call 1-877-726-2461 if you think you might be a victim of the breach and have questions.