The hospital records of as many as 40,000 patients may have been stolen from a major New York City hospital, the Associated Press reports.
The the thief is most likely an employee, the wire service says, and the discovery of the missing records came as the result of an internal audit and a federal investigation.
The records in question did not contain health information, the A.P. quotes New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell spokeswoman Myrna Manners as saying, but they did contain a lot of personal information -- names, addresses, phone numbers, and possibly Social Security numbers.
While saying that there had been as yet no reports of a patient falling prey to a financial scam or fraud, Manners told the A.P. that the missing information was possibly part of a "larger criminal enterprise." She would not name the employee in question.
Officials from the U.S. Attorney's office acknowledged to the wire service there was an investigation into the missing hospital patient records but declined to elaborate. Manners said the 40,000 patients -- all of whom had been treated in the past two years -- had been notified, and that a hotline had been established for them to use as more information became available.