A hospital chain with 10 facilities in Arkansas said its computer system was hacked and limited patient information may have been stolen.

Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems portfolio of Arkansas hospitals include Northwest Medical Center-Bentonville, Northwest Medical Center-Springdale, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital, Willow Creek Women’s Hospital in Johnson, Sparks Health System in Fort Smith and Summit Medical Center in Van Buren.

It also includes Medical Center of South Arkansas, Harris Hospital in Newport, Forest City Medical Center, and Helena Medical Center.

The health care provider confirmed that limited personal identification data belonging to some patients who were seen at clinics affiliated with Northwest Health System over the past five years was transferred out of its organization in a criminal cyber-attack by a foreign-based intruder.

“The transferred information did not include any medical information or credit card information, but it did include names, addresses, birth dates, telephone numbers and social security numbers,” according to Patricia Driscoll, spokeswoman for Northwest Health Systems.

“We take very seriously the security and confidentiality of private patient information and we sincerely regret any concern or inconvenience to patients. Though we have no reason to believe that this data would ever be used, all affected patients are being notified by letter and offered free identity theft protection.”

Community Health Systems, which operates 206 hospitals across the U.S., said it believes the intruder was a foreign-based group out of China that was likely looking for intellectual property. Some 4.5 million patients at Community Health Systems facilities are victims of this data breach. The intruder used highly sophisticated methods to bypass security systems. The intruder has been eradicated and applications have been deployed to protect against future attacks, according to the release.

“We are working with federal law enforcement authorities in their investigation and will support prosecution of those responsible for this attack,” Driscoll noted.

Read the company’s full statement from our content partner, The City Wire, at this link.

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The City Wire Staff