Regina hospital worker snooped on records of ex-spouse
September 7, 2016
REGINA – A recent report by the Saskatchewan privacy and information commissioner has revealed that a Regina General Hospital employee inappropriately looked up the personal data of 35 people, including an ex-spouse.
According to the Aug. 17 report, the Regina Qu’Appelle Regional Health Authority (RQRHA) received a complaint from a female patient on Oct. 15, 2015.
A total of 97 electronic medical records of 35 people were accessed by the employee. Global News reported the worker is a medical lab assistant in the phlebotomy unit of the Regina Hospital.
According to the privacy commissioner’s report, “The employee inappropriately accessed personal health information including Medical Record Number (MRN), patient name, lab orders and ordering physician of the employee’s relatives and former spouse, among others,” the report said.
After receiving the privacy breach complaint and meeting with the employee and their union representative, RQRHA placed the employee on paid administrative leave on Jan. 29.
“This however was over three months after the initial complaint was received, leaving the employee with the ability to potentially continue to inappropriately access the medical records of individuals while further auditing took place,” the report said.
“From reviewing RQRHA’s investigation report, it is not clear if any other steps were taken prior to placing the employee on leave more than three months after the initial complaint.”
The employee is now on a definite leave of absence and has not been disciplined at this time. The health district told the commissioner’s office it intends to interview the employee about the snooping and determine what corrective measures would be appropriate.
The report said because the employee is off on a definite leave of absence, RQRHA cannot interview the employee until the individual returns, due to the CUPE collective agreement.
In the report, Saskatchewan’s privacy and information commissioner, Ronald Kruzeniski (pictured), criticized RQRHA’s handling of the case saying it did not properly deal with the privacy breach in a timely fashion.
He also said the health district did not provide notification to those affected in a timely matter. His report said the health region waited until after a meeting with the employee on July 4 to tell affected individuals.
“It is my understanding that RQRHA was hesitant to provide notification to affected individuals based on the nature of the employee’s leave, as the employee had gone from paid administrative leave to a definite leave of absence,” Kruzeniski said in the report.
“I would encourage RQRHA in the future to provide notification of the breach of personal health information to affected individuals as soon as it becomes aware of a breach.”
In May, changes to the Health Information Protection Act in Saskatchewan made it an offence for healthcare workers to access someone’s personal health records if they don’t need that information.
The changes were based on recommendations made by a working group that was struck after thousands of medical records were found in a Regina garbage bin in 2012.