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Patients sue Advocate Medical Group over data theft

Updated: October 9, 2013 7:47PM



A Northbrook mother and daughter who were patients of Advocate Medical Group have filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging the health care company was negligent in protecting patients’ private data by allowing computers to be stolen from its offices.

But an Advocate spokeswoman said the company has no indication that the data has been “misused.”

In a burglary July 15, two men stole four computers from an Advocate building in Park Ridge that contained identifying information, including names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. The computers also had limited clinical information, such as health insurance data, Advocate officials said.

About 4 million patients were notified of the burglary, including Pierre Petrich and her daughter, a minor, who filed the lawsuit Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court.

It alleges that the Downers Grove-based health care company was negligent in protecting private data and failed to use encryption and other basic security measures on behalf of patients.

“In this age of advanced technology, Advocate had to realize that its unorthodox methodology for maintaining important and private data posed a risk to the safety and security of their patients,” attorney Robert Clifford said in a statement.

The five-count lawsuit claims negligence, violation of laws regarding consumer fraud and deceptive practices, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks unspecified damages.

“We deeply regret any inconvenience this incident has caused our patients who have entrusted us with their care,” Advocate spokeswoman Kelly Jo Golson said in a statement. “We are also committed to providing all individuals impacted by this incident with resources to answer their questions and tools to protect their personal information.”

“Although we are unable to comment specifically on active litigation matters, we want to reassure our patients that we do not believe the data was targeted and we have no information that leads us to believe that the information has been misused,” Golson said.



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