[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

A computer containing patient and research information was stolen from a physician’s home on April 30, 2012, says the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The physician notified the local police department.

MD Anderson says it has taken steps to help prevent this from happening in the future, including accelerating efforts to encrypt all MD Anderson computers. This technology scrambles each computer’s data to make it more difficult for unauthorized users to retrieve any information. MD Anderson is also reinforcing its privacy policies with all employees about how to handle patient information.

After learning of the theft on May 1, MD Anderson began an investigation, including working with outside forensics experts, to determine the information contained on the computer. After completing the investigation, MD Anderson was able to confirm that the computer contained patient information, including names, medical record numbers, treatment and/or research information, and, in some instances, social security numbers. There is an ongoing criminal investigation into the theft, and MD Anderson says it is working closely with law enforcement to recover the computer.

MD Anderson worked with forensics experts to recreate the information that was on the stolen computer, and notified patients. MD Anderson has no reason to believe that the computer was stolen for the information it contained, since other items were also stolen from the employee’s home.