Hospital loses patient data
Wilcox Memorial tells 130,000 people it lost a computer drive of personal information
WAILUKU, Maui » Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Kauai is warning some 130,000 former and current patients about the disappearance of a computer data drive containing client information.
Hospital spokeswoman Lani Yukimura said a backup drive, with files going back 12 years, was found missing on Oct. 5. Yukimura said hospital officials do not know if the "thumb drive" was stolen or missing.
"Anything could have happened. We just don't know," she said. "We wish this didn't happen. We totally regret it."
Yukimura said the data drive does not contain medical information, but has a listing of names, addresses, medical record numbers and Social Security numbers.
The hospital sent out letters Monday to the 130,000 people whose information was on the data drive.
Hospital officials waited 12 days to notify patients about the missing hard drive because they wanted to make sure it was indeed lost, said David Fox, information security and privacy officer for Hawaii Pacific Health, the hospital's parent company.
"We didn't want to sit on it any longer, based upon the respect we have for the patients and the risk it could potentially create," Fox said.
Yukimura said the hospital notified the Kauai Police Department about the missing files and is conducting an internal investigation.
She said the hospital has no indication that anyone has used the information.
The thumb drive, which can be plugged into a computer's USB port, could be read using Adobe Acrobat Reader software and was not encrypted to limit access, she said.
Yukimura said the hospital has since adopted new policies to prevent a similar incident.
She said Hawaii does not require businesses to inform clients when there is a potential theft of their information, but the hospital felt it should disclose the loss as a precaution.
She would not name the department where the data was lost, saying hospital officials were still investigating.
Hawaii Pacific Health also operates the Kauai Medical Clinic.
Yukimura said the missing data drive did not contain patient information from Kauai Medical Clinic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.