Privacy breaches found at Central Health

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Central Health is advising the public of what it terms significant breaches of privacy involving an employee who “inappropriately accessed” personal health information.

“Disclosures are already underway and will be completed as quickly as possible. The employee in question has been terminated,” the health authority’s chief executive officer Karen McGrath said Monday.

“When people come into our care they have a right to privacy,” McGrath said. “While we are very disappointed that this privacy breach has occurred, we think it is important for the public to know that we take it very seriously and we are dealing with it appropriately.”

 The privacy breaches occurred over 2 1/2 years. According to Central Health, it involved the inappropriate access of at least 80 different reports belonging to at least 19 different people. An investigation is ongoing.

“While Central Health does not normally discuss information pertaining to particular employees, we feel the seriousness of this privacy breach requires us to tell the public that this employee has been terminated,” McGrath said. “If we are going to be successful in protecting the private and confidential information of our client, we must enforce our policies.”

She said privacy has long been considered a part of the organization’s culture and, over the past number of years, the issue of privacy has been given high priority through privacy blitzes, education sessions and other promotional activities.

In 2010, Central Health made privacy training sessions mandatory for every employee of the organization. To date, about 60 percent of all employees have completed the training. The health authority also recently hired a privacy manager and privacy analyst to improve the protection of private and confidential information.

 Central Health says privacy will also be enhanced through new electronic auditing software the health authority is in the process of acquiring to automate the auditing process, making it quicker and easier to identify inappropriate access to personal health information.

Should any further privacy breaches be identified, Central Health says it will notify the appropriate individuals to conduct a full disclosure.

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