Patients notified about UW Medicine security breach

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by AMY MORENO / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on November 30, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 30 at 6:24 PM

The University of Washington is warning thousands of patients that their personal information may have been compromised.  In early October, an employee opened an email that contained malicious malware that took control of a computer containing patient information.

The hospital says it could impact about 90,000 patient records and is sending letters to warn people about the potential security breach.  Some patients are wondering why it took so long to let them know about the possible problem. 

The letters say the incident happened more than a month ago, but Patricia Shiras says she didn’t receive a letter until Friday. 

“The delay in letting us know is appalling, if it happened October 2nd why are we just being notified the day after Thanksgiving,” Patricia Shiras said.

The letter tells victims that their social security number and other financial information were not part of the data that was accessed.  It also tells patients “we do not believe you need to take any further action.”

But a news release on the UW Medicine site says Social Security Numbers and dates of birth may have been accessed.  It says they've referred the incident over to the FBI and patients may be contacted as part of that investigation.

Shiras says she received excellent care at UW and is disappointed with how this problem has been handled. 

“I think my social security number and financial information are compromised and they're trying to cover it up” she said.

A hotline has been set up to answer questions from patients 877-271-1533.  UW Medicine says “ID Experts” will be available Monday through Friday between 6am and 6pm to talk with those impacted.

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