A Missouri orthodontist notifies 10,000 patients of a data breach

03 September 2013

A Florissant orthodontist’s office has informed 10,000 people that their personal information could be compromised because of a break-in and burglary at its offices in July.

Olson & White Orthodontics, which also has offices in O’Fallon, Mo., was burglarized on July 22. Thieves took computers containing personal data, including patient health information, according to Armstrong Teasdale, the Clayton-based law firm hired by Olson & White after the break-in.

Dan Nelson, an attorney with the firm, said he was not aware of any personal information’s being stolen or used. But under federal health privacy laws patients need to be informed of a possible loss or misuse of personal data within 60 days. Letters were sent Thursday.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as a lag,” Nelson said, referring to the nearly five-weeks since the burglary happened and when the letters were sent. “We had to do a fairly extensive investigation to determine what personal information may have existed on the stolen hardware and the scope of the number of people potentially impacted.”

Most of the patients were probably were teenagers who were getting braces, Nelson said. Their parents’ data also was in the office’s systems.

The patients’ personal information included names, addresses, X-rays, photos and diagnostic findings. The parents’, or insured party’s, information included names, emails, Social Security numbers and credit scores.

The computers were password-protected, but savvy identity thieves could still lift the data if they pursued it, Nelson said. Other items were stolen from the office, including a flat-screen television.

The investigation into the theft is ongoing, Nelson said.

Patients are being told to take specific steps to protect against identify theft, including not verifying requests to confirm any sensitive personal information.

Article Sourced From: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/patients-at-florissant-orthodontist-told-of-possible-data-breach/article_47bcd294-4234-5221-8cd6-d5e2b26ea8a6.html