Oakland drug bustOAKLAND, Calif. —The personal information of nearly 5,000 patients at three Bay Area hospitals may have been stolen and authorities only found out about because of a drug bust in Oakland almost a month ago.

Sutter Health East Bay region notified the public Friday that 4,500 patients had personal information taken from the hospital.The information which isn’t medical may include Social Security number, employer, address and birth date.

The information concerns patients from three different hospitals — Alta Bates Summit, Sutter Delta and Eden Medical Center

“This is not uncommon,” said Alameda County Sheriff Sgt. J.D. Nelson. “You are looking for one crime and you end up finding a completely other crime with many, many victims.”

Nelson said almost a month ago, a drug related investigation led the Alameda County sheriff’s narcotics unit to 53rd Avenue in Oakland.

Inside a drug house deputies found about a quarter pound of meth.

What they didn’t expect to find was Sutter Health patient information. They arrested two people.

“It’s a personal thing, you are going in to get surgery or whatever and it should be between the hospital and patient,” Nancy, a Lafayette resident who declined to give her last name.

Nancy’s husband just had surgery.

If she receives a hospital letter warning her about stolen information, she’s not sure what she’ll do.

“People that engage in that kind of activity usually don’t limit themselves to one illegal activity,” Nelson said.

A few years ago, a stolen computer forced Sutter Health to contact more than 4 million patients about compromised information.

That breach led to a billion dollar lawsuit.

The hospital wouldn’t speak on camera with KTVU to explain the breach any further. They also couldn’t say the time span patients were affected.