Island Health says 34 patient records viewed in second privacy breach
Published Friday, July 8, 2016 10:25AM PDT
Last Updated Friday, July 8, 2016 6:56PM PDT
Island Health says 34 more people had their patient privacy violated in the organization’s second breach in under a month.
The organization announced Friday it had uncovered another breach separate from one reported on June 13 that affected nearly 200 patients.
The latest incident involves a lone employee who viewed private patient records of 34 people who received services from Island Health.
President and CEO Dr. Brendan Carr publicly apologized on behalf of Island Health for the breach.
“Our employees know it’s wrong to look at the private health information of patients when they have no legitimate reason to do so,” Carr said in a statement. “It saddens and disappoints me that the actions of a very, very small minority of our 19,000 staff violate the values and high ethical standards we all work towards to Island Health. Our patients deserve better.”
The organization said it’s still in the process of notifying affected individuals, and that the Victoria-based employee involved has been fired.
Last month’s breach saw two employees let go after they reportedly used their access privileges to look at electronic health records.
Island Health said all those breaches happened in the City of Victoria and all patients involved were notified.
B.C.’s privacy watchdog was also investigating that incident.
Over the last two years, some 28 employees in total have been caught breaching patients’ privacy, and many of them are still on the job.
Carr maintained that it’s just a few bad apples spoiling the reputation of the entire organization.
“Nineteen-thousand people in this organization who are interacting with patient information. We have tens of thousands of those interactions every day,” he said.
But he admitted that the breaches are happening far too often.
The province’s acting privacy czar thinks the law needs to crack down on offenders to keep similar incidents from happening.
“We see that the implementation of fines for unauthorized access would be a significant deterrent for employees to do the kinds of things that these ones appear to have done,” said Drew McArthur.
B.C.’s Health Minister Terry Lake said he believes the problem is no worse at Island Health than elsewhere in the province.
Lake even commended Island Health for being proactive with audits, moreso than any other health authority in B.C.
The organization said it plans to keep working with other authorities and tweaking its own systems to better detect future breaches.