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Laptop containing L.A. County patient records stolen

March 4, 2011 |  7:11 pm

Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey
A laptop computer containing more than 660 patient names and diagnostic information was stolen last month from Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, Los Angeles County health officials confirmed Friday.

At least 667 patient records were on the stolen laptop, which included names, dates of birth and medical record information, said county Department of Health Services spokesman Michael Wilson.

The laptop was not encrypted, and had been attached to a complex piece of diagnostic machinery that performs electromyographies. The device helps diagnose neuromuscular disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.

Staff members at the county-run hospital became aware of the stolen laptop Feb. 24, Wilson said, and letters have since been sent alerting patients affected by the theft. The hospital has begun a review of portable electronic devices and is making efforts to prevent future occurrences.

"It’s unfortunate. We regret the incident. It's an unusual occurrence, but we've taken steps to do the best remediation we can," Wilson said.

Anyone with questions on the privacy breach can call the county at (877) 726-2461. The line will begin operation Monday.


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Photo: Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey serves more than 9,500 patients a year.

Credit: Los Angeles Times