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December 17, 2014

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Another UMC breach surfaces with theft of computer hard drives

Six computer hard drives reported stolen

Kathy Silver

Kathy Silver

Chris Giunchigliani

Chris Giunchigliani

The theft of six computer hard drives is the latest revelation of apparent wrongdoing within University Medical Center, although hospital officials say no sensitive information was compromised.

The hard drives were stolen between June 2008 and last November, according to a Feb. 26 memo that hospital CEO Kathy Silver sent to Clark County commissioners, who serve as the public facility’s board. Five of the drives were used mostly for network access and contained no sensitive information, the memo said. One drive contained images that lacked patient information and could only be viewed using proprietary software, it said.

UMC spokesman Rick Plummer said in an e-mail to the Sun that the hospital investigated each theft and reported them to Metro Police, which declined to investigate because the value of the hard drives was minimal.

“It’s very disturbing any time we find somebody is not acting within the policies and procedures of the hospital,” Plummer said.

Hospital officials also told the FBI about the hard drive thefts after the Sun reported in November that someone at UMC was leaking private patient information, allegedly to ambulance-chasing attorneys. The FBI is investigating that leak, but declined to include the hard drives, hospital officials said.

The thefts came to light when Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani mentioned them in a Feb. 24 letter she sent to Silver regarding another matter. Giunchigliani told the Sun she was satisfied with the hospital’s explanation and thought the thefts were handled properly.

The hard drive thefts are the latest of several alleged crimes within the cash-strapped hospital. Former CEO Lacy Thomas awaits trial for allegedly awarding millions of dollars in no-work contracts to his friends in Chicago. The alleged malfeasance may have cost the county $10 million, prosecutors claim.

In 2007 police arrested employees in the facilities department, including a supervisor. The charges involved stolen items and working on private projects on county time.

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