August 19th, 2010 | News, University

Laptop with health data stolen from School of Medicine

A laptop containing the personal health information of nearly 1,000 people was stolen about a month ago from the School of Medicine.

The School of Medicine said in a statement Tuesday that it has started notifying patients affected by the theft. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 announced Wednesday that his office is conducting an investigation into the cause of the breach, to determine whether state or federal laws have been violated.

The laptop, stolen July 28, did not contain social security, financial or insurance numbers, according to the School of Medicine statement. The computer was taken from the office of a data analyst and reported missing on July 29.

“In addition to affirming all of our existing measures to protect patient privacy, we are moving to introduce immediately several security upgrades,” School of Medicine dean Robert Alpern said in the statement.

Data theft that results from stolen portable devices is more common that one might think, said Paul Stephens of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, an organization that tracks privacy breaches. According to the group’s website, 87 incidents of data theft of a similar nature to the School of Medicine incident have occurred at schools and universities since 2005.