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Health records faxed to business by mistake

medical recordsCALGARY- Despite repeated alerts to Alberta Health Services, a Calgary business continues to receive private health information via fax. Scott Chisolm says his office fax machine has been receiving the sensitive records since 2008.

“I’ve seen everything from the results of pregnancy tests, blood tests, HIV results, the last one even more dramatically more personal than that,” he told Global News. The faxes have come from a variety of sources, including a maternity clinic and urgent care centre, all because of staff misdialing the number.

Such mistakes can sometimes have tragic consequences, as was the case with a patient named Greg Price who died of testicular cancer. A provincial inquiry found the health system was partly to blame for his death, because of faxes that weren’t properly sent.

“It played a big role in Greg’s experience and the breakdown of Greg’s care, because there were several times where the records were not transferred or received in the way that one may have expected or hoped for,” said Dr. Ward Flemons from the Health Quality Council of Alberta.

The report recommended the health system move away from faxes in favour of secure electronic medical records, but faxes are still widely used.

“We continue to get reports of misdirected faxes at our office, and it’s unfortunate because there are electronic systems such as Alberta Net Care that can more safely and securely transport this kind of information to the proper recipient,” said Brian Hamilton from the office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta.

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