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Mass. hospital completes probe of data loss

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 27, 2010

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South Shore Hospital in Massachusetts has completed an investigation into the loss of back-up computer files that contained information on about 800,000 people. It says the evidence shows that the files are unrecoverable, and that there is little risk of the information being accessed or misused.

The South Weymouth hospital announced in July that a third-party data management company had lost back-up computer files that were meant to be destroyed. Included in the files was information on South Shore patients as well as employees, physicians, volunteers, donors and other business partners of the hospital that had business or a relationship with South Shore between Jan. 1, 1996, and Jan. 6, 2010.

The investigation found that the two missing boxes were probably separated from a third box, and therefore were unidentifiable and appeared to be of no value. The investigation found that even if the boxes were discovered, specialized software and equipment would be needed to access and interpret the information.

In light of the investigation, the hospital has no plans to contact individuals whose information may have been contained in the tapes. It has issued public notices that were published on the hospital's website, in the hospital's facilities and in local newspapers.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/09/27/bibf0927.htm.

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