A laptop computer containing limited medical information on pediatric patients was stolen from a physician's car on the night of Jan. 9, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital has reported.
The hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine are notifying patients by mail of the theft, which was reported to the hospital and school of medicine on Jan. 10 after the theft was discovered.
The laptop is password protected, and the theft took place away from the hospital and school campus, hospital spokespersons said.
Authorities said they launched "an aggressive and ongoing investigation" with security and law enforcement and began contacting potentially affected patients. Officials are working with law enforcement to recover the laptop.
The medical information on the computer was mostly historic and related to past care and research, according to the hospital. The patient data did not include financial or credit card information, nor did it contain Social Security numbers or any other marketable information. It did include names and dates of birth, basic medical information, and medical record numbers, which are used only by the hospital to identify patients.
In some cases, there was limited contact information. So far, there is no indication that any patient information has been accessed or compromised, the hospital said.
"As a result of this incident, we are taking additional steps to further strengthen our policies and controls surrounding the protection of patient data, including redoubling our efforts to ensure that all computers and devices containing medical information are encrypted," officials said in a statement.
Potentially affected patients are being offered free identity-protection services, and a toll-free phone line has been established for patients' families. The number is 855-731-6016, and is available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.
An information page for patients regarding the incident is available at www.lpch.org/aboutus/news/for-patients.html.