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Former nurse found guilty in data breach case

Colleen WeeksST. JOHN’S, N.L. – A provincial court judge has brought down a guilty verdict in the case of a former nurse at Eastern Health accused of inappropriately accessing patient records.

Colleen Stamp (pictured), formerly Colleen Weeks, was fired from the province’s largest health authority in 2012 after an audit revealed she was one of 11 employees accused of illegally accessing patient records. CBC News reports that Judge Gregory Brown found Stamp, 40, guilty on one count of breaching the province’s Personal Health Information Act (PHIA).

Defence lawyer Randy Piercey and Crown prosecutor Vikas Khaladkar will present their submissions on sentencing on Oct. 9. Weeks was a triage nurse at the Health Sciences Centre, and the charge involves 18 instances over a 12-month period where she accessed personal records.

Stamp took the stand in August in her own defence, and claimed she did nothing wrong. She said the emergency room at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s was a madhouse, often overcrowded and understaffed.

She said at times, she would look up information for overworked doctors that they perhaps should have looked up themselves.

Stamp admitted she would look up patient information; for example, if a father called and wanted to know if his son was in the emergency room, she would ask the father to tell her about the son. If the information was accurate, she would tell the father if his son was there.

According to Stamp, looking up records sometimes took a matter of seconds, but there was one incident that shows she accessed someone’s records for 36 minutes.

Stamp said that occasion was a computer glitch. She said the computer locked up, and it was so busy in the emergency room it was necessary to leave it open and continue on with her work.

Stamp was originally charged with 122 counts of privacy breach, but 105 of those charges were thrown out for falling outside time limitations.

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1 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    October 09, 2014

    Just going by the report, this seems to be a case of ED overcrowding combined with an inefficient information system, combined (perhaps) with unclear rules. It’s always easy to point fingers at an person and fire the “evil-doer;” I hope this will prompt management to look at their systems and processes.

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