Doctors Warned of Data Theft Risk From Laptop Stolen From Blue Cross and Blue Shield Employee

By Staff Report

Oct. 15, 2009

The American Medical Association is warning physicians across the country about the possibility that their identities could be stolen as a result of a theft of a laptop from the car of a Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association employee.

A spokesman for the Chicago-based BCBSA confirmed that an employee “broke protocol and transferred to a personal laptop” personal physician information such as names, addresses and provider identification numbers from a provider data repository that is used by insurers to pay doctors.

The spokesman said the laptop was stolen from a car that was among several other vehicles that were vandalized in Chicago in August.

Since learning of the theft, the Chicago-based AMA has been alerting physicians about the theft.

“The data is used in performing internal matching analyses to compare Blue Cross and Blue Shield provider networks to the networks of other health plans for employer groups,” AMA president James Rohack said in a Wednesday, October 14, statement distributed to physicians.

While he said “there is no reason to believe that the thief intends to commit identity theft” because of the nature of the burglary, the insurer is offering credit-monitoring services to providers whose Social Security numbers were exposed.

“We are encouraging physicians to use these services to help protect themselves and be vigilant against any prescriptions or claims filed fraudulently on their behalf. The AMA is working with BCBSA to recommend additional steps that it can take to help mitigate the risk of identity theft resulting from this data breach,” Rohack said.

Fortunately, no patient information was contained in the database, according to BCBSA.

Filed by Joanne Wojcik of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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