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Theft of data on 4M patients part of wider problem

Theft of medical records for 4M Calif. patients highlights widespread health industry problem By The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) ' The theft of a computer containing information on more than 4 million patients of a major Northern California health care provider may be among the largest breaches of health care data in recent years, but it's far from the only incident of its kind.

Over the last two years, health care organizations have reported 364 incidents involving the loss or theft of information on nearly 18 million patients ' equivalent to the population of Florida.

A thief stole a desktop computer containing the information from Sacramento-based Sutter Medical Foundation in mid-October by breaking an office window with a rock and taking several devices.

Sutter publicly announced the theft Wednesday and acknowledged that the patient data was not encrypted for protection, drawing criticism from privacy and computer security experts.

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