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Camera Containing Autopsy Photos Stolen From Loyola University Medical Center Pathology Lab

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Loyola University Medical Center confirmed that a camera containing the autopsy photos of several patients over a period of more than a year was stolen from the hospital's pathology lab, and the personal health information of those patients has not been recovered.

A letter to one deceased patient's family indicated that the theft happened between July 1 and July 8. The camera contained images from 68-year-old Deborah Clark's autopsy, which had been performed more than a year earlier.

Clark's family tells CBS 2 they weren't notified about the breach for two months, and they still have questions about how and when it was reported.

"It's sickening to think that those photos are just out there," said Tanya Washington, Clark's daughter. "And that the hospital system didn't have the decency to tell us until now."

Sources said autopsy photos of about 10 patients were lost, but Loyola has not confirmed that information.

"The hospital believes the camera was the target of the theft, and at this point we have no indication that the images have been used or further disclosed," a Loyola medicine spokesperson said in a statement, "Families affected by the loss of information have been notified as well as required reporting to the Office for Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services."

No word yet on exactly how many patients' autopsy photos were stolen.

A spokesperson said the hospital has introduced new safety measures to prevent this from happening in the future. There is increased security in the pathology department, personal health information is no longer being stored on devices, and images are immediately deleted from cameras after being uploaded to a secure location.

The Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed it is investigating, but a spokesperson said the agency could not comment on active investigations.


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