EDMONTON – A briefcase containing personal information of patients and potential employees was stolen from Covenant Health, according to the organization’s chief quality and privacy officer.
Jon Popowich (pictured) says the briefcase was stolen from an employee’s vehicle on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. It contained the personal information of 41 people – discharge summaries of 32 patients and resumes of nine people who had applied for jobs with Covenant Health.
The incident was reported to the Edmonton Police Service and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta on Dec. 24. The affected people were also notified.
The briefcase and all of the documents were found a few days later and returned to Covenant Health, Popowich said.
“Everything was still inside the briefcase, so those items were secure,” he explained. “It’s unfortunate that this happened, it’s also fortunate that the items were located. And it’s always good practice, I think, on our part that we let people know right away. We disclosed, we were honest, open, transparent.”
Popowich says Covenant Health was already in the process of reviewing its practices and protocols, but sees this as a further learning experience.
“We had already developed new policies and procedures regarding the security of all information, including transportation of personal health information,” he explained. “Those drafts were actually in circulation at the time of this incident and should be implemented within the next couple of months.”
This incident comes just days after the Alberta Government was notified that a laptop containing personal information of 620,000 Albertans was stolen in September.
The information on the laptop included unencrypted names, birthdates, health card numbers, billing codes, billing amounts and diagnostic codes for patients seen at Medicentres clinics from May 2, 2011, to Sept. 19, 2013. The two incidents are not related.