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NSHA to contact 211 people whose private information was breached

Halifax Infirmary.
Halifax Infirmary. Global News file

The Nova Scotia Health Authority announced Tuesday that it’s in the process of contacting 211 people whose personal health information was inappropriately accessed in two separate and unrelated incidents.

The NSHA says the privacy breach involves two employees, but won’t comment on their employment status or if there have been any disciplinary actions taken.

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Nova Scotia Health says it’s completed its own internal investigation and the privacy breaches were found during routine audits.

“Everyone who is affected will hear directly from Nova Scotia Health and we will be available to discuss the details of these breaches with them,” the NSHA said in a statement.

“We apologize to everyone whose private information was viewed and to Nova Scotians in general.”

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The health authority said it has notified the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia and will work with the office on any recommendations it may offer as a result of the breaches.

The NSHA also noted that the organization is taking several steps to ensure that all employees understand “appropriate access and their obligation to keep patient information confidential.”

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These steps include:

  • Pledges of confidentiality signed by all new staff, and standard orientation regarding privacy and compliance with Nova Scotia Health policies and procedures.
  • Ongoing education for managers and front-line staff.
  • An online privacy and confidentiality learning module with the expectation all staff will complete and submit the pledge of confidentiality annually.
  • Proactive auditing capability in place and being used across the province with additional audit processes being developed.

“Nova Scotia Health takes any breach of confidentiality seriously, and thoroughly investigates potential inappropriate access,” said the NSHA.

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“While we are extremely disappointed that these breaches have occurred, we maintain confidence in the ethical practices of employees throughout our organization.”

-With files from Jesse Thomas