Patient health information stolen from nurse’s car

Real-CloutierWINNIPEG – A Winnipeg nurse faces possible disciplinary action after 67 patient files were stolen from her vehicle during a house call in January, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says.

The records were printed health summaries that included the name, health number, address, health conditions and medications of each patient, said Réal Cloutier (pictured), the WRHA’s chief operating officer.

“On behalf of the Winnipeg health region we apologize to the clients whose health information has been stolen,” said Cloutier.

The nurse was working part-time for the WRHA’s Community Intravenous Program when the data was stolen. It appears she broke the WRHA’s rules for handling and storing sensitive documents.

“Our policies are very clear. Client information is not to remain in a car,” said Cloutier. Home-care workers and nurses frequently travel with patient summaries; however, they are expected to always carry the information with them on their person, he said.

All 67 patients whose information was stole were informed by Jan. 23 of the breach, said Cloutier. The WRHA warned them there is a low risk their personal information can be used for identity fraud.

“Our expectation is that someone who took the bag was probably looking for other things, not client information. We’re going to make an assumption that information was discarded along with the bag,” said Cloutier.

Each of the patients were notified of the incident and provided additional contact information should they have any further questions or concerns, said the WRHA in a news release.

The WRHA added it takes patient privacy “very seriously” and all its staff attends obligatory training to protect patient privacy.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has reported the theft to police. Any disciplinary action taken against the nurse will take into account her history and the extent of the breach, said Cloutier.

“I’m sure this individual is horrified and I can guarantee this will never happen again with this individual,” Cloutier said.

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