The Corvallis Clinic reported that a laptop computer stolen last month from a locked car might have contained a limited amount of health information about patients.

The computer itself is protected by a password, clinic officials noted in a press release Wednesday, but the data was not encrypted.

"A breach of patient health information is unlikely," Janet Preller of the clinic said in the press release, "but as guardians entrusted with maintaining information securely, we feel it is important to notify our patients."

Clinic officials said they are investigating what information might have been stored on the laptop. In addition, they said the clinic is reviewing its policies and training procedures regarding health information.

The information involved was limited to spreadsheets, clinic officials said, so any patient health information on it is limited in data. None of the information is known to include Social Security numbers or financial credit information, they said.

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The laptop was stolen from an employee's car while he was attending a work-related conference in Portland. The employee reported the theft to supervisors and authorities within 24 hours, clinic officials said.

Judy Corwin of the clinic said that officials released news about the theft as soon as they determined that the laptop could contain personal health information.

Preller said in the press release that a breach of clinic policy occurred in that patient information was maintained on the employee's personal laptop that had not been evaluated or cleared for use by the clinic's information security officer. Corwin added that the employee no longer is employed at the clinic.

The clinic is offering a toll-free number, 855-699-0716, that patients with questions or concerns can call to talk with a clinic representative. 

"We want our patients and the community to know that we take this issue very seriously and are dedicated to the privacy and security of patient information," Preller said in the press release. 

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