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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Stolen hospital records recovered

By Michael McFall

Hospital billing records for 1.5 million U patients have been recovered, said the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.

The records contained personal information on former patients from the U Hospitals and Clinics, including physician names, driver’s license numbers, insurance information and Social Security numbers.

Lieutenant Paul Jaroscak, a spokesman for the County Sheriff’s Office, said they are deferring questions about the details of the recovery until a press conference, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

No arrests have been made regarding the records.

The U announced June 2 that a box containing back-up billing records for roughly 1.5 million patients was stolen while in the possession of an employee of Perpetual Storage Inc., a moving company that had been contracted to move the records to a vault in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

The back-up records were being moved to a vault to protect them in the case of a fire or earthquake.

The courier drove home with the records instead of delivering them to the off-site vault in a company van, and the records were stolen from his car during the night.

About 950,000 of the stolen records contained Social Security numbers that could be used in identity theft.

The theft sparked a lawsuit against the U and Perpetual Storage by a former patient, Patrick Beamish, who was represented by the Christensen & Jensen law firm. The firm filed its notice of claim against the moving company last month and against the U on Tuesday, before the records were recovered.

The lawsuit, which is still in place, demands that the U do more to protect patients who could be affected by the theft of their personal information. The U sent letters out to its patients, which cost the school about $500,000, offering a free year of credit monitoring and fraud alert.

The firm felt the offer was inadequate. In their notice of claim, the firm stated that the U and Perpetual Storage should offer at least five years of credit monitoring, as well as legal counsel, more inclusive insurance offers, and relief for victims of identity theft not related to Social Security numbers, such as drivers’ licenses.

The U’s legal counsel could not be reached regarding the filed lawsuit.

Karra Porter, a lawyer with the firm, said that they will not drop or change the lawsuit unless it’s confirmed with absolute certainty where the records have been for the past month. If not, the firm will likely proceed with the suit as planned.

“It doesn’t change the fact that (the personal information) can still be used,” Porter said. Even though the records were recovered, she said, the thieves could have copied the information to use it at a later time.

Christensen & Jensen will also continue its lawsuit against Perpetual Storage, claiming negligence since the company allowed the records to be stolen.

The moving company is also facing a separate lawsuit from former patient Theresa Keachie, who filed a claim Monday claiming personal injury.

The claim filed by Christensen & Jensen will be represented by 13 patients, all of whom were former patients at the U and are possibly affected by the theft.

The firm will not be representing as many patients as it initially thought. The U first announced that 2.2 million records were stolen in a press conference last month. After letters were put together, they discovered about 700,000 listed patients were either duplicates or deceased. The number of stolen records was lowered to 1.5 million.

Chris Nelson, a spokesman for U Hospitals and Clinics, said earlier this week that if there is a reported case of identity theft as a result of the missing records, the U will likely re-evaluate its position on credit monitoring.

However, no patients have claimed to be victims of identity theft yet, Nelson said.

U representatives could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

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