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Health

Thousands of X-rays stolen from St. Joseph hospital

Baltimore County police are looking for someone who stole thousands of X-rays from St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson in what they believe was a scheme to extract the silver from the images.

The hospital said Friday that someone posed as a worker for a radiological film destruction company to get access to the X-rays. The theft was believed to have occurred Sept. 11 and discovered five days later. Hospital and police officials did not identify a suspect.

The hospital says the X-rays were likely stolen for the silver and that it does not think that patient information was a target. X-rays are coated with silver to enhance images. The silver can be removed while destroying the X-rays and then sold.

The theft comprised about 5,000 X-rays and radiological films taken during 2004, 2005 and part of 2007. The films were stored in paper jackets with medical reports and included the patient's name, date of birth, medical record number, date of service, referring physician, the type of study and the radiologist's medical interpretation of the film.

The film and records did not contain the patient's address, phone number, Social Security number, financial information or health insurance information.

St. Joseph's regularly purges and destroys outdated X-ray and radiology films using an outside company. The films that were taken were scheduled for destruction under the hospital's record management program.

The hospital has enhanced security to prevent future thefts, but officials declined to provide details.

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/ankwalker

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