Patients of the UAB Viral Hepatitis Clinic may have had their protected health information exposed during a Oct. 25 data breach, UAB Medicine released late Thursday morning.
The 652 patients affected were notified of the incident by letter, the university hospital said.
Patients first and last names, birth date, gender, diagnosis, date and time of the examination, numbers and images associated with test results, and -- in some cases -- the name of the referring physician may have been exposed.
UAB Medicine said the data breach didn't include address, phone number, Social Security number, or any insurance/banking/financial account or transaction information.
According to UAB Medicine, the breach involved the loss of two USB memory sticks (jump drives) used to transfer electronic information to a computer from a Fibroscan machine used to evaluate liver disease.
It's unknown if the data was or was not accessed or viewed by a third party.
Affected patients were sent a letter this week notifying them of the nature of the breach and the information at risk, as well as the institution's commitment to patients and steps taken in response to the incident.
"We care deeply for our patients' wellbeing and their quality of life," the letter read. "UAB Medicine takes the protection of our patients' PHI very seriously and sincerely regrets this possible exposure. We conducted an extensive search for the USB sticks and continue to investigate the incident. We have implemented measures to prevent a similar breach in the future and will continue to evaluate our operations."
UAB Medicine encourages affected patients who feel their personal information could be misused to review their credit report to determine if unusual or fraudulent activity related to this incident has occurred, and to place a "fraud alert" on their credit report if necessary. UAB Medicine is also making available one year of free credit monitoring and reporting services available to affected patients upon request.
Patients of the Viral Hepatitis Clinic are encouraged to call, toll-free, 855-580-3636 with any questions.