September 27, 2013
Prairie North Health Region (PNHR) is informing 151 patients of a privacy breach involving their personal health information.
Prairie North offers its sincere apologies for the breach by one of its employees. The employee, who was not involved in the patients' medical care, improperly accessed the patients' personal health information between 2009 and 2012. This is considered a breach under the provincial Health Information Protection Act (HIPA).
This incident is being disclosed in the interest of openness and transparency. PNHR is advising the patients by letter.
Prairie North promptly took disciplinary action against the employee resulting in termination.
PNHR has notified the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) of Saskatchewan and is working with OIPC to strengthen policies and implement strategies to reduce the risk of a similar breach happening in the future. Prairie North has also notified the applicable professional licensing bodies.
Among the measures implemented are increased emphasis and education of staff about their responsibilities for privacy and confidentiality under the Region's policies and HIPA; and working toward improved processes and ability to monitor and audit the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) through which the breaches occurred. PACS is a complete system of medical imaging records, including personal health information and digital diagnostic images, for health care providers to use when delivering services to patients.
PNHR was informed of the breach in November 2012. A lengthy and detailed investigation of the allegations was conducted, including an audit of the PACS system back to the date of its implementation in the Region. The audit revealed that the patients' health information was viewed inappropriately by the employee.
Prairie North Health Region considers the protection of personal health information a matter of utmost importance and is confident the steps taken will reduce the risk of such an incident occurring in the future.
For more information, contact:
Linda Lewis, PNHR Communications Officer
For a printable version of the news release, click here.