Privacy breach at Red Deer hospital affects thousands

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More than 3,000 patients’ electronic health records were improperly accessed at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre (RDRHC).

An internal investigation by Alberta Health Services (AHS) has revealed that 3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly over a two-year period at the RDRHC.

The records were accessed by two employees in the Diagnostic Imaging Department.

According to AHS, one of the employees improperly accessed the information of 3,147 patients between October 2018 and October 2020.

A co-worker improperly accessed the patient information of 77 people. Both individuals are no longer employed by AHS.

Officials with AHS said that the majority of patient health records accessed were of RDRHC emergency patients, coworkers and family members, and consisted of personal demographic information and clinical records.

“AHS takes the privacy and confidentiality of patient information seriously, and non-work related access to patient records is a clear breach of confidentiality and a direct violation of privacy and information security policies,” said Janice Stewart, chief zone officer with AHS Central Zone.

“We understand that patients trust AHS to appropriately access and safeguard their health and personal information. AHS remains fully committed to ensuring safeguards are in place to build this trust by preventing inappropriate access, use or disclosure of patient information.”

AHS has reported the breach to Alberta Health and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta.

Those affected by the privacy breach will be notified by mail. Notifications were mailed out on April 12.  

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