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Thieves robbed a van containing health records for more than 1.7 million patients, staff, vendors and contractors of the North Bronx Healthcare Network in New York City.

The computer backup tapes were stolen Dec. 23, but the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation began notifying victims Feb. 9, according to a statement issued Feb. 11 by the 14-hospital system. While it took HHC nearly two months before reporting the data breach, it was well within the 60-day period required by New York state law. It took HHC this long to sort through the files to assess what kind of information the tapes had contained and to whom it belonged, before reporting the data breach, according the hospital group.

“Letters in 17 languages have begun to be mailed to patients and affected individuals this week advising them of the theft and informing them of protective services that have been made available,” Alan D. Aviles, the president of the HHC, said in the statement.

The data breach affects patients who have visited the Jacobi Medical Center, North Central Bronx Hospital, Tremont Health Center and Gunhill Health Center from 1991 to Dec. 2010. The stolen flies also contained medical information for staff, vendors and contractors who work for the hospitals and had either access to the QuadraMed computer medical record system, or had been examined and screened by the hospitals’ Occupational Health Service, HHC said.