City of Hope responding to theft at billing contractor that led to potential privacy breach for some patients

March 10, 2014
Computers containing patient information stolen from Torrance office of Sutherland Healthcare Solutions
DUARTE, Calif. – A burglary that occurred on Feb. 5, 2014, at Sutherland Healthcare Solutions’ office in Torrance resulted in the theft of eight computers, two of which contained personal information about a small percentage of City of Hope patients and their financial guarantors. Sutherland is an outside vendor that contracts with health care providers, including City of Hope, for certain billing services. Sutherland Healthcare assists City of Hope and other health care providers in billing supplemental insurance companies for Medicare patients and with aspects of billing related to Medi-Cal accounts.
As of March 4, 2014, City of Hope officials obtained a list of approximately  5,400 affected accounts, and has begun notifying affected patients and their guarantors that their personal information including their names, Social Security numbers, medical record numbers, treatment dates and other dates of service may have been contained on the stolen computers. All the patients potentially affected were covered by Medi-Cal or by Medicare and supplemental insurance.
Sutherland is assisting law enforcement in investigating this matter and has reported that Torrance police have said that they do not believe City of Hope patient information was the target of the theft. Additionally, there has been no indication that personal health information about City of Hope patients has been further used or disclosed.
City of Hope only shares information with vendors who agree to adhere to strict privacy protection measures, and had such an agreement with Sutherland. Upon learning of the theft, City of Hope promptly suspended its business operations with Sutherland, and is taking all necessary steps to mitigate harm to its patients.
In accordance with California and federal law, City of Hope has also notified the California Department of Public Health and the Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights.
City of Hope takes great care to protect patient privacy and regrets the concern and inconvenience this incident has caused to affected individuals. City of Hope has secured the services of Kroll, a global leader in risk mitigation, to provide free identity theft protection to affected individuals, and has set up a toll-free hotline, 855- 294-2551 to answer any questions.
Tami Dennis
Phone: 800-888-5323
[email protected]
About City of Hope
City of Hope is a leading research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope’s main hospital is located in Duarte, Calif., just northeast of Los Angeles, with clinics in Antelope Valley and South Pasadena. It is ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S.News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics.