Eastern Health discloses another 'accidental' breach of privacy

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Eastern Health president and CEO Vickie Kaminski. — Telegram file photo

Eastern Health has issued a news release, saying it has experienced an "accidental" breach of privacy of 63 of its clients.

The health authority said the accidental breach occurred when the briefcase of an employee was stolen from a vehicle while left unattended for about 10 minutes on the evening of April 17.

The briefcase, which hasn't been recovered, is said to have contained one client chart and a notebook with limited personal health information of 62 other clients.  "I regret that this incident had occurred, and I apologize to all of the patients whose privacy has been accidentally breached," said Vickie Kaminski, president and CEO of Eastern Health. 

“We continue to hold zero tolerance for any wilful privacy breach that occur in our organization, and will make every effort to learn from this accidental privacy breach in efforts to further strengthen our privacy and confidentiality practices," Kaminski said.

Eastern Health said it has identified all the patients affected by the privacy breach and, as of today, it has contacted the majority of those impacted.  The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has also been notified of the incident.

The health authority said there are incidences when it is appropriate for employees of Eastern Health to have personal health information outside of its facilities, such as during the provision of care and service delivery. 

The news release said Eastern Health has policies in place to "help guide the security of personal health information while it is in use on its property, and when employees are off site or in transit."

 This incident is the second accidental breach of personal health information that Eastern Health has experienced last week. 

On April 16, a briefcase was stolen from another employee's vehicle. That briefcase, which contained information on two patients, has since been recovered. Eastern Health said the patient information remained intact and the two patients were advised of the incident.

 Eastern Health said it has communicated to its managers to remind staff of their duty and the importance of securing patient information at all given times.

 The health authority said it holds its responsibility to the public and as a custodian of personal health information in the highest regard.

Organizations: Office of the Information

Geographic location: Eastern Health

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Recent comments

  • sick of coverups
    April 30, 2013 - 11:42

    two words for the CEO, "YOUR'E FIRED" get the message dunderdale.

  • California Pete from NFLD
    April 26, 2013 - 13:07

    It's time to replace the CEO with someone there has enough guts to stand up and let some sloppy body's go. It starts at the top and can only go down hill from there

  • CFA
    April 26, 2013 - 12:10

    Why is patient information allowed to be removed from the hospital/clinical area?I work in a hospital in Ontario and patient info is not permitted to leave the building,regardless if it is legal documentation or rough notes.If documents need to be given to professionals outside of the clinical area, it is done so without identifiable personal information(other means of identification is used i.e. hospital number) and under highest security.The employees who had the patient records in their possession and off site should be disciplined immediately.

  • Joe
    April 25, 2013 - 21:13

    It sounds like these last two leaks of information may be by MANAGEMENT PERSONAL and it is hoped that the same procesure is followed as the first. Final result being termination and court action. If the records were not removed from the hospital or health unit there would not be any loss. It must be questioned about a notebook with so much information being held by one person. It is hoped the judge their chance to review these leaks.

  • Casey
    April 25, 2013 - 18:20

    The health authority said it holds its responsibility to the public and as a custodian of personal health information in the highest regard. If that is the case why was a vehicle with personal information left unattended?

  • jt
    April 25, 2013 - 16:03

    I am getting pretty sick of hearing the same old story from Vicki Kaminski about how they are "learning" from their mistakes. Eastern Health needs to be cleaned up. It is becoming the laughing stock of other provinces

  • M
    April 25, 2013 - 15:23

    I was often trusted with the transportation of classified material from one place to another. We were issued specific instructions with zero tolorance for error. Always travel with the material stored out of site if possible, as in a locked car trunk. Never leave the material unattended for any reason whatsoever. This applied to travel by air, rail or boat. There were never any breaches of security. Eastern Health said it has communicated to its managers to remind staff of their duty and the importance of securing patient information at all given times. They state, "The health authority said it holds its responsibility to the public and as a custodian of personal health information in the highest regard." That is absolute garbage. If they truly mean that these incidents would never have happened in the first place. Employees charged with the care of sensitive material need to be properly trained and retrained and security policy and procedures have to be implemented and strongly enforced. Any breaches of security should be dealt with considerable haste and firmly. Of course any such action would only occur after a complete investigation. I would also hope that there would be lessons learned from any such breach.

  • OMG
    April 25, 2013 - 15:06

    And here I thought you were not suppose to take anything patient related off site at any time. Anything needed by staff, physician etc had to be couriered to the other site... So why is it that the rules apply different to everyone at eastern health? No one should have the need to be carrying personal info of over 60 + people... You think they would learn by now... I suppose eastern health likes being sued for this kind of preventable incident.. SMARTEN UP

  • Little Man Dan
    April 25, 2013 - 14:44

    As I said before, there's a culture over there and they should be lined up....