Advocate patient info at risk after burglary

Advocate Health Care officials and Park Ridge police are investigating a burglary at an administrative building in the Northwest suburb that may have led to the release of information on 4 million patients.

The incident happened in the early morning hours of July 15 at 205 Touhy Ave., a spokeswoman said. Four computers containing patient identifying information — including names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers — were stolen.

The computers did not contain medical records, but they did have some "limited clinical information," like doctors' name, diagnoses and health insurance information, according to the spokeswoman. The lost data was for patients who had visited a physician in Advocate Medical Group, the health system's employed physician practice.

"The most important thing is that this issue has no impact on patient care," said Dr. Kevin McCune, Advocate Medical Group's chief medical officer. "Security is a top priority for our health care ministry. Nothing leads us to believe that the computers were taken for the information they contained or that any patient information has been used inappropriately."

The data included patient going back several years, and Advocate officials have launched an investigation to determine what information was lost.

No one was in custody in the burglary.

In addition to the police, Advocate contacted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Illinois Attorney Gen. Lisa Madigan's office following the incident.

The attorney general offered the following advice:

• Consumers who suspect they are the victims of identity theft should consider placing a fraud alert on their credit reports. This lasts for 90 days and the consumer only needs to contact one major consumer reporting agency (TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax). They will notify the two other consumer reporting agencies.

• Consumers should obtain a free credit reports from and continue to monitor credit reports throughout the year.

• Consumers may consider a freeze on their credit reports.