Patients' Info Swiped Along With Laptop

Unencrypted data on 2,500 government study subjects missing
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2008 3:57 PM CDT
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(Newser) – A government laptop loaded with personal medical info on thousands of patients just “fell through the cracks,” a top exec with an NIH subsidiary says. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute machine was stolen Feb. 23, apparently at random, from an employee’s car trunk. None of the 2,500 records on the machine was encrypted, a violation of federal guidelines, CNN reports.

The records belonged to participants in an NHLBI study, and the Institute says it’s worried that study participants may feel their trust has been violated. But according to the Government Accountability Office, these things happen all the time. The government reported 13,000 security incidents in 2007, a 250% increase from the year before, as data increasingly moves onto portable media like laptops.