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updated: 9/6/2013 2:26 PM

Advocate Medical Group sued over stolen patient records

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A Chicago law firm filed a class-action lawsuit in Cook County against the Downers Grove-based Advocate Medical Group claiming the company did not do enough to protect patient privacy following the theft of four computers containing personal data for more than 4 million patients.

The computers contained patient names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers and some clinical information, but not medical records, Advocate officials said. The computers were stolen from the company's Park Ridge administrative offices on July 15.

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The 4.03 million patients affected include individuals who visited any of the 1,000 Advocate Medical Group doctors working at more than 200 locations throughout Illinois. The physician-led medical group is part of Advocate Health Care, the largest health system in Illinois.

Attorneys for Clifford Law Offices claim the medical group, by maintaining private information on unsecure, non-encrypted computers, failed to take proper precautions to protect private, patient data.

"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," senior partner Robert A. Clifford said in a prepared statement.

In a statement issued last month, Advocate officials acknowledged the computers were unencrypted but said they were password protected.

A representative from the company said in a prepared statement that Advocate regrets the inconvenience to patients and remains devoted to providing the "highest level of care and service."

"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," said Kelly Jo Golson, senior vice president of public affairs and marketing.

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