A proposed settlement of $988,550 has been reached in a class-action lawsuit relating to patient health records being wrongfully accessed by former employees at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre more than a decade ago.
On Thursday the hospital announced the proposed settlement, noting a court hearing is scheduled on Aug. 30 at 8:30 a.m. to determine whether the settlement will be approved.
Between 2011 and early 2012, former hospital employees inappropriately accessed the personal information of approximately 280 patients. The hospital in 2015, in response to a Toronto Star article, noted the breaches included some records for abortion services performed at the hospital between June 3, 2010 and March 24, 20211.
At the time the hospital said seven employees were fired as a result of alleged patient record privacy breaches which were reported to the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
“PRHC takes patient privacy very seriously, and has a zero-tolerance policy with respect to inappropriate access to medical records,” the hospital stated Thursday.
The hospital initially sought to have a class-action lawsuit thrown out. However, in 2015 the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that patients should be permitted to sue hospitals and staff members for privacy breaches and not be restricted to filing a complaint to the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
In October 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the hospital’s further appeal.
The hospital had argued that health privacy violations were the responsibility of the privacy commissioner and fell under the Personal Health Information Protection Act.
The hospital says if approved, the settlement will make compensation available to eligible class members up to a total of $988,550, with up to $650 to each class member who submits a valid claim.
PRHC says a class member includes any individual, or representative of an estate of an individual, who was notified in 2011 or 2012 by the hospital that their health records were inappropriately accessed by one of four former PRHC employees.
“No admission of liability is made and none of the allegations have been proven in court,” the hospital stated.
Individuals wanting to attend the hearing are asked to contact Greenspon Granger Hill for more information at email@example.com or call 613-288-2890.
If the settlement is approved by the court, class members will receive further notice describing how to submit a claim for compensation. PRHC says those who do not want to be legally bound by the settlement must opt-out by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a letter to Greenspon Granger Hill at 331 Somerset St. West Ottawa, ON K2P 0J8. The email or letter must be received on or before Aug. 16.
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