Laptop containing health information for thousands stolen, province seeking investigation
Alberta’s Health Minister issued a statement Wednesday saying he had requested an official investigation into the theft of a laptop containing the personal health information of thousands of Albertans, in the fall.
Minister Fred Horne said in the statement the Vice President of Medicentres Family Health Care Clinics had informed him a laptop with identifying information such as the name, date of birth, provincial health care card numbers, and billing and diagnostic codes for 620,000 Albertans had been stolen in September, 2013.
“I am extremely disappointed that it has taken this long for this to be brought to the government’s attention,” Horne said in the statement. “Albertans want to know that their information is secure and protected.”
Horne said the theft had been reported to the Edmonton Police Service, and Alberta’s Privacy Commissioner.
Medicentres issued a statement on the matter later Wednesday, and said the stolen laptop had belonged to an IT consultant working for the company, and officials within the organization were informed of the theft October 1.
The company confirmed the information on the laptop dated back to patients seen at clinics between May 2, 2011 and September 19, 2013 – and to date, officials said there was no indication the information on the laptop had been misused, or accessed.
On Wednesday, Horne said he had formally asked the Privacy Commissioner to conduct an official investigation, under the Health Information Act “with an aim to find out what happened, why health authorities have only just been informed, and what, if any, breaches of privacy legislation may have occurred.”
Horne said he had also contacted the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Alberta Medical Association over the issue.
In their statement, Medicentres apologized for the incident, and said affected patients were encouraged to review their bank and credit card statements, and report any unusual activity immediately to their financial institution, or head to the Privacy Commissioner’s website for more information.
Medicentres said affected patients could contact the company directly at 780-484-8741 or by e-mailing email@example.com.
An Edmonton Police service spokesperson confirmed police were informed of the theft on October 5, and an investigation was ongoing.