Porter Regional Hospital

Patients of Porter Health Care System, which operates Porter Regional Hospital (above), may be eligible for money under a settlement agreement for a 2014 cyberattack.

Porter Health Care System patients whose personal information was stolen in a 2014 cyberattack are eligible for up to $5,000 under a settlement agreement.

In April and June 2014, hackers believed to be in China accessed the computer networks of physician practices affiliated with Community Health Systems, the owner of Valparaiso-based Porter Health Care System, and obtained patients' names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses and, in some instances, phone numbers and employer names.

Medical records and credit card numbers were not part of the attack.

The breach affected 4.5 million people nationwide, though it is unknown how many were patients of Porter Health Care System, which has medical offices throughout Porter County. The hospital system referred questions to Community Health Systems, which directed The Times to the settlement website.

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In August 2014, Porter stated that the hack took "limited personal identification data belonging to some patients who were seen at physician practices and clinics affiliated with Porter Health Care System over the past five years."

Franklin, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, one of the largest hospital owners in the country, reached a $3.1 settlement in the class-action lawsuit, though did not admit wrongdoing.

Patients are eligible for $250 for lost time and out-of-pocket costs spent dealing with the hack and up to $5,000 if they experienced identity theft or fraud.

"We take very seriously the security and confidentiality of private patient information," the hospital system stated in 2014, "and we sincerely regret any concern or inconvenience to patients."

People have to submit claims by Aug. 1. A judge then has to approve the settlement at an Aug. 13 hearing. Patients can also opt out of or object to the settlement by May 18.


Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.