WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has dismissed a Grace Hospital pharmacist for looking at the records of patients who weren’t in his care.
“We apologize for this breach occurring, that should not have occurred,” said Real Cloutier, Chief Operating Officer for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, “The person was just curious and looking at information, there was nothing illegal going on per say.”
The pharmacist reviewed the health records of at least 56 people without a work-related reason for doing so.
The unauthorized access of health records was caught during an audit by WRHA privacy staff.
“We’re doing proactive audits on a regular basis,” said Liz Loewen, Director of eHealth Manitoba, “random audits of all of the users from across the system.”
The health authority has notified all 56 patients who were identified as having had their health records accessed by the pharmacist.
The pharmacist looked at the health information of people he wasn’t caring for using eChart Manitoba, which gives health-care professionals access to patient health information. Health-care providers aren’t allowed to look at the information unless they need it to care for a patient. Records include information such as name, address, prescription records, lab results, immunizations and X-ray reports, the health authority said.
The system keeps a record of all user activity, which allows for privacy audits.
“The thing you’d be worried about is, are they selling the information, are they providing information to a third party of some sort, we could not identify any of that going on,” said Cloutier.
The Manitoba Ombudsman announced late Tuesday it’d be conducting a review of the WRHA’s handling of the privacy breach and will work with the health region to ensure all reasonable steps have been taken to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
People who use or disclose confidential patient information can be charged under the Personal Health Information Act and face a fine of up to $50,000 if convicted.