Some hospitals in Southeastern and South Central Pennsylvania have had security breaches in their newborn-care units.

The Pennsylvania "Department of Health has become aware of a number of recent occurrences where one or more females attempted to access the OB [obstetric] or newborn-care areas . . . under false pretenses," said an alert e-mailed to hospitals last Thursday by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania. "At some facilities, the woman requested a tour of the OB facility."

The warning, which also was posted on the association's Web site,


, noted that at one hospital, an obstetrician's white lab coat, identification, stethoscope, and prescription pad were stolen.

"Please . . . take the steps necessary to ensure security of the OB and newborn care areas," the association urged.

Under state law, reports of patient-safety problems are confidential. Richard Baumgarten, the association's media director, sent the e-mail and said he had no further information about the incidents.

Health Department spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman would not specify the number of incidents or hospitals, or the implications for patient safety. She said the breaches involved "multiple facilities" in the five-county Philadelphia area and the south-central part of the state.