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Sutter Health patient information turns up in drug bust

Sacramento Business Journal, 6/10/13

Kathy Robertson

Senior Staff Writer- Sacramento Business Journal

When Alameda County sheriff’s deputies conducted a drug bust in Oakland on May 16, they found drugs, but a search turned up something else, too: personal information on about 4,500 Sutter Health patients.

It’s unclear how the information got there, but it may have come from Sutter hospitals, including Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley and Oakland, Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch and Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, according to a letter to patients from David Bradley, president of Sutter’s East Bay Region.

The information may include patient name, Social Security number, birth date, gender, address, home phone number, marital status, name of employer and work phone number. Nobody knows — or is talking yet — about how it got there.

“We started doing an investigation and were looking for other stuff and found that,” said Sgt. J.D. Nelson from the sheriff’s department. He declined comment on the form of the information, whether it was paper lists or a computer file.

Bradley’s letter says Sutter was notified May 23. His letter was sent to patients June 5. It says Sutter is cooperating with law enforcement in an ongoing investigation.

“While it is presently unclear where the information originated, and whether your information has been viewed, we have decided to offer credit monitoring services because your Social Security number is involved, Bradley advises patients in the letter.

Sutter has set up a special call-in number to help answer questions if patients think they might be affected. Call 888-414-8020. When prompted, the reference number is 2788053113.

The incident follows a massive Sutter data breach in October 2011, when a computer was stolen from health system offices in Natomas that contained unencrypted data on 4.24 million patients. It did not contain Social Security numbers, but it did contain some medical information. A multibillion-dollar class action is slowly winding its way through Sacramento County Superior Court.

Kathy Robertson covers health care, law and lobbying, labor, workplace issues and immigration for the Sacramento Business Journal.


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