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Patients’ Personal Health Files Taken from Locked Area at HSC

November 2, 2016 11:25 AM | News

Doctor's Note

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The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has reported yet another breach of personal patient information in recent years.

Patients were notified this week that a paper billings file went missing from a diagnostic imaging office between October 7 and 8. The WRHA says the file was stored in a locked room at the Health Sciences Centre where swipe card access is required.

Officials say information in the file is limited and they don’t believe such data will be exploited. About 1,000 patient files were included in the breach.

“We take our responsibility toward patient privacy very seriously,” said Real Cloutier, vice-president and COO of the WRHA. “We are working with an external security company and Winnipeg Police Services to determine what happened and making every effort to recover the file.”

The public is being alerted out of an abundance of caution to ensure anyone affected is aware.

“Because of the limited information available in the file it is unlikely the information could be used for malicious purposes,” said a statement.

The information contained in the file included the patient’s name, date of birth, type of test, exam name and information specific to the hospital, such as the reference number for the medical chart, physician information and examination room number.

Anyone who receives a letter from the WRHA about this breach should continue to monitor their financial statements as they normally would.

Last year, Manitoba’s auditor general said the WRHA needed to do more to protect the personal information of patients and other data. The report came after a doctor’s laptop was stolen in 2014, containing personal information for 322 patients. The report also stated the health authority failed to ensure that data remains protected when accessed by thousands of personal laptops, smartphones and other devices used by workers.

In another incident last year, a pharmacist working at the Grace Hospital accessed electronic patient information for 56 patients who had no direct link to the hospital.