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Security breach at North Shore Univ. Hospital

April 11, 2012 3:13:46 PM PDT
Eyewitness News has an exclusive investigation into a major security breach at one of the area's largest hospitals.

Eyewitness News has learned that patients at North Shore University Hospital have been notified that their private health records, including social security numbers and insurance information, have been stolen.

New York State Police are saying this is an ongoing and widespread probe.

Eyewitness News just learned that there were actually two security breaches at North Shore; one last year where the hospital says 50 patients were notified, and there was another breakdown in the system this year, beginning in January, where patients records were compromised again.

The hospital says that theft involved about a hundred people who've also now been warned.

It's hard to imagine that your privacy inside a hospital could be as vulnerable as your health, but Eyewitness News obtained a letter that North Shore University Hospital on Long Island has sent to patients, notifying them that confidential information on the computer network was stolen in an attempt to open up credit cards in the person's name.

What was included in those records was: date of birth, address, phone number, medical record number, social security number, insurance information, and potentially the medical history.

"This is a major security breach of information system and is a warning to other medical institutions to look at their systems," said Bill Daly, Senior V.P. Control Risk.

Attorney Bonita Zelman represents one critically ill patient who received North Shore's letter which also tells patients they'll get one year of free credit monitoring services.

"My client has already been financially impacted because he was notified by a Target store in Massachusetts that somebody attempted to open up a charge account in his name," Zelman said.

Zelman says it wasn't only Target, but also the credit department from Macy's that contacted her client about identity theft.

The patient had no idea there was a connection until he got the hospital letter late last month.

"How outrageous is that," Zelman said.

Eyewitness News has learned that a Brooklyn man, Clincy Robinson, Sr. who lists himself as a health care professional on his my space page, has now been indicted in Nassau County for identity theft, and possessing computer data from North Shore containing information on over 900 people.

He's a licensed nurse but it's not clear of his connection to the hospital.

Robinson and an alleged accomplice are also accused of grand larceny connected to purchases at Target and Macy's.

The criminal complaint says the crimes took place during a three-month span a year ago, but the hospital says corporate security learned of the incident on March 19th of this year.

"The question is when did they know, what did they do about it immediately to protect their patients from further harm?" Zelman said.

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