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Johns Hopkins Hospital Patients Identity Alert

[Information Updates: Follow this link to new information posted to the Identity Alert website.]

Personal information on more than 83,000 Johns Hopkins Hospital patients was included on a backup computer tape that was sent to an outside contractor in late December 2006. Johns Hopkins discovered in late January 2007 that the tape, which was to be transferred to microfiche for archival purposes, was never returned.

All of the hospital patients were either new patients first seen between July 4 and December 18, 2006, or had changes in their demographic information in that time.  The information included names, dates of birth, mothers’ maiden names, fathers’ names, sex, gender and medical record number.  There was no medical information, Social Security numbers, addresses or financial information of any kind on the tape.  This means that the risk of identity theft or other misuse of patients’ information on that tape is very, very low.

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine faulty and staff, and employees of the Johns Hopkins Health System, may have been among those patients.

If your personal information was on the hospital tape, The Johns Hopkins Hospital is mailing a letter confirming that fact to all but a relatively few for whom there are no addresses available.

Eight other backup tapes sent to the contractor contained personal information on more than 52,000 Johns Hopkins University employees. If you also are an employee of Johns Hopkins University, go to for further information.

After an extensive investigation, Johns Hopkins believes it is highly likely that the tapes were inadvertently destroyed.

Below are answers to additional information that may be of use to patients. You may also check the frequently asked questions page.

  • Why were the tapes being sent to the contractor?
    The information on the backup tapes was to be transferred to microfiche for archiving. This was a regular monthly practice for the University payroll information and a weekly practice for The Johns Hopkins Hospital patient demographics information.

  • Was the information on the tapes protected? 
    First, the tapes were not compatible with typical personal computers. In order to see the information, an unauthorized person would have needed specialized equipment that most computer users do not have. The information was not encrypted, however, and was in a format that could have been read by a user who had the proper equipment > more

  • What should I do if, despite the low risk, I am concerned?
    Patients may request free copies of credit reports. A fraud alert can be placed on your credit file, which tells creditors to follow certain procedures, including contacting you, before they open any new accounts or change your existing accounts. For that reason, placing a fraud alert can protect you but may also delay you when you seek to obtain credit. Please see this information from Experian on the complications that placing a fraud alert could cause for you. > more