The laptop theft that saw health information of 620,000 Albertans stolen is the most recent case of personal information of patients being taken, but it is far from the first.
There have been at least four others similar incidents that affected hundreds of thousands of people in the last decade.
October 2006: 1,094 (under age 6) affected
A laptop containing a database of 1,094 patient records was taken from the home of a mental health therapist in Calgary.
The data came from children who were or had been patients.
It contained a long list of personal information, including names, birth dates, health numbers, names of parents, addresses, telephone numbers and notes on family history, concerns and consultations.
May 2007: 20,000 affected
Four laptops used by system analysts were stolen from a Capital Health office in Edmonton on May 8, 2007.
But it took the province until August 2007 to start informing patients of the theft, saying that there was little risk of thieves accessing the personal information because it was password protected.
June 2009: 300,000 affected
The theft, which went unnoticed for 20 days, contained names, birth dates, health numbers and lab reports on more than 300,000 people.
While the information was password protected, Alberta’s privacy commissioner says the fact that the data was unencrypted was “shocking to me.”
November/December 2010: 2,800 children affected
Seven laptops and other devices containing personal information were lost or stolen in Alberta over the course of a month in 2010.
While not all of them included health data, one did hold the medical charts of 2,700 children participating in a U of A gastroenterology study.
In the same month, two laptops holding information about patients under six were taken from a speech pathologist’s office.