Several hundred patients of Edmonton's Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute are being notified of a theft of personal information from the facility.

An external hard drive that included the health records of 650 patients was stolen in August.  It could be linked to a theft in the clinical procedure lab on Aug. 5 but the drive was not identified as missing until a few weeks later.

The information includes patient names, gender, dates of birth, physician name, study date of cardiac mapping tests and medical record numbers.  Alberta personal health care numbers were not included in the stolen information.

Alberta Health Services is sending notification letters to impacted patients, and a dedicated call-line is available through Health Link to answer any additional questions.

“We know this news will be stressful for those affected and we apologize for any worry this may cause," Dr. Mark Joffe, vice president and medical director for northern Alberta said in a written release. "We would like to note that the nature of the data on the drive would make it very difficult for someone to use just on its own.”

AHS confirmed that mandatory policies were not followed and it is reviewing security measures.  The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and Alberta Health have been informed of the incident.

The theft at the lab was investigated by AHS and Edmonton police.