Barton health records stolen and he's ticked

Barton health records stolen and he's ticked
Barton health records stolen and he's ticked 

By Todd J. Gillman 
Trail Blazers Blog
April 03, 2008

Rep. Joe Barton revealed Thursday that he is one the heart patients 
whose medical records were on an unencrypted laptop stolen from a 
National Institutes of Health researcher.

While all 3,000 or so patients are likely anxious about having their 
privacy compromised, the Ennis lawmaker is in a unique position to do 
something about it. He's the senior Republican -- and former chairman -- 
of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has broad 
oversight authority over NIH and scores of other agencies.

On Thursday, Barton and a GOP colleague sent the Health and Human 
Services Department's inspector general a letter demanding an 
investigation of the theft, and explanations for why the personal data 
wasn't encrypted as required, and why over a month passed before NIH 
notified Barton and other patients about the breech.

Barton had a heart attack in December 2005 during budget negotiations at 
the Capitol.

The laptop was assigned to a researcher who is studying the use of MRI 
scans to help heart patients avoid surgery. He'd left it in the trunk of 
his car. It was stolen Feb. 23 in Germantown, Md., a distant suburb of 
Washington, but the NIH didn't notify Barton and others whose privacy 
was compromised until last week.

A copy of Barton's letter to NIH is here. 

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