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Life Flight informs patients of possible confidential information breach

Published: Friday, April 26 2013 3:40 p.m. MDT

Life Flight and Utah Valley Regional Medical Center personnel transport a patient from helicopter to emergency room.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

Enlarge photo»

SALT LAKE CITY — Patients flown by Life Flight helicopters during at least three months of 2004 were advised Friday that their personal information may have been compromised.

The information, collected from patients in April, May and June of that year, was inadvertently put on an employee website where it may have been accessed by individuals outside of the emergency transport company.

Officials called the isolated situation a "human error," the first of its kind in Life Flight's 35-year history.

"We take very seriously our responsibility to protect patient information and offer our sincere apology," said Bill Butts, director of aviation operations for Life Flight. "We've looked into this and have taken steps to prevent this from ever happening again."

Online access to the information, which is believed to contain Social Security numbers for 107 of the 842 patients transported during that time, is no longer available online, as all files have been moved behind a secure firewall, Butts said.

Birth dates, brief medical information and the city of residence were listed for most patients and should have been protected by a password. The simple protection turned out to be less than adequate.

There is no evidence that any of the information made available has been used inappropriately, but Life Flight is taking steps to provide identity protection for any patient flown during that period of time.

Life Flight has sent letters to patients to notify them of the issue and is offering a year of monitoring service. Former patients who receive the letter and have questions may call 1-877-615-3740 for more information.

The company could not locate contact information for 15 patients who were transported during that time. Those individuals are also asked to call the available hotline.

Email: wleonard@deseretnews.com

Twitter: wendyleonards

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