WINNIPEG – A laptop computer containing personal health information was recently stolen from an office of a doctor working in the Department of Internal Medicine within the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. Personal health information from 322 patients was contained on the computer.
The laptop contained personal health information from patient consultations undertaken within the past eighteen months at the Hepatology Clinic located within the Health Sciences Centre.
“The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority takes patient privacy and its role in safeguarding personal health information seriously,” said Mr. Real Cloutier (pictured), Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
The incident has been reported to the Winnipeg Police Service. As well, the Manitoba Ombudsman has been notified of the potential privacy breach resulting from the theft. Letters to all affected patients notifying them and disclosing the incident have been issued by the Region’s privacy office.
“We can appreciate how unsettling this must be for patients,” said Cloutier. “We are deeply sorry, and want to assure patients and the public we are looking at every option possible to get the laptop back.”
“The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has a strong regimen of training, policies, and technical supports in place for all staff that are meant to safeguard patient information and prevent potential breaches such as this,” said Cloutier. “This is why we are also conducting an internal investigation to determine exactly how and why certain security measures do not appear to have been followed in this case.”
Unauthorized use or disclosure of confidential information may result in a disciplinary response up to and including termination of employment, association, or appointment. Individuals charged and convicted of an offence under The Personal Health Information Act may be required by the Court to pay a fine of up to $50,000.
Additional information about the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s access and privacy policies can be found on-line at www.wrha.mb.ca/privacy.