(CBS) – A laptop filled with personal information about thousands of patients has been stolen from Northwestern Memorial Healthcare.

The health system said the laptop was in an employee’s vehicle that was stolen Oct. 21. It contained the health information of about 2,800 patients. The laptop was password-protected but not unencrypted, NMHC said in a statement issued Friday.

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“We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience to affected patients. Letters are being sent to individuals related to this privacy incident as we work cooperatively with authorities investigating the matter,” the statement said.

The employee whose car was stolen contacted authorities immediately.

Hospital officials say the laptop may have contained patients’ names, addresses, dates of birth, health insurance information, billing codes, date of services, physician names, diagnosis, and, in some cases, Social Security numbers.  Patients’ credit card and bank account information were not on the laptop.

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The health system says it is taking steps to encrypt other laptops used by it staff.

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