WINNIPEG – Officials at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority say an extensive audit was conducted and found more than 1,600 patients were affected by a data breach at Grace Hospital.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says it will notify hundreds of patients whose personal health information was inappropriately accessed by a nurse at the 247-bed hospital, located on the west side of the city.
Concern about the employee’s unnecessary use of patient information was first raised by a manager on March 12, CBC News reported.
The WRHA said an extensive audit was conducted, which determined more than 1,600 individuals were affected by the privacy breach.
Lori Lamont, acting chief operating officer for the WRHA, said the audit found no evidence that any patient was targeted specifically.
“The individual [who accessed the information] indicated that they had an interest in emergency medicine,” Lamont said.
“They were looking at files for their own personal learning, but there was no pattern to the access and no specific individuals that were looked at on frequent occasions.”
Lamont said the nurse was working at multiple hospitals and given access to the emergency department information system appropriately.
However, the nurse’s access of the emergency files at the Grace Hospital was not part of that work.
“They looked at basic information … some of the basic emergency care and treatment reports,” Lamont said. “It’s not a full record but it is a record of the kinds of things that people would come to the emergency department with.”
The information was accessed over a period of four months but Lamont assured the files had not been printed, shared or leaked.
“We are contacting all individuals who were affected and encourage them to connect back with our privacy office should they have any concerns or questions about the information they receive,” she said.
“We are very sorry for the distress this breach may cause any individuals who will receive notification in the coming weeks.”
Sandi Mowat, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, told CBC News in a statement that she is aware of the incident.
“We are working with both the individual and the employer to address this issue and improve policies and procedures that are designed to protect privacy,” she said.
“We take confidentiality very seriously and will provide any assistance required.”
The nurse is no longer working with the WRHA, Lamont said, adding the health authority regularly audits its information systems to detect potential privacy breaches.