B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

VIP patient snooping among health privacy breaches

Privacy commissioner's report urges health authorities to tighten safeguards

Too many health authority employees inappropriately snoop in patient records and some deliberately disclose sensitive information via social media or cellphones.

That’s one of the most serious types of breaches flagged by B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham in a new report on how the province’s health authorities safeguard privacy.

The report cites “cases of snooping where staff members access records of VIP or other patients out of curiousity or for malicious intent.”

It uncovered four cases in 2013 of staff posting photos of patients to Facebook or Instagram, and three cases of doctors or nurses taking photos.

Another nurse commented on a patient’s health information on Facebook.

“The (privacy commissioner’s office) has serious concern regarding health authority staff deliberately disclosing the sensitive personal information of patients through their own mobile devices and on social media,” the report said.

The report doesn’t break down the number or frequency of incidents between B.C.’s health regions.

Denham’s office has received 200 privacy breach complaints over 10 years from health authorities but suspects that’s just one per cent of the actual number of incidents.

Misdirected faxes were the single most common type of privacy breach identified.

Lost or stolen records or mobile devices were most common among home health and community care programs.

Half of health authorities reported problems with home care workers leaving patient records unsecured in their cars against policy.

Fraser Health told Denham’s office its privacy officers notify affected individuals in almost every privacy breach, in addition to the health region’s CEO.

There is no legal requirement for disclosure in B.C.

Data held by health authorities includes personal identifiers, financial information, health conditions, test results, medication used, as well as information on patients’ physical, mental and emotional status, as well as lifestyle and behaviour.

Denham issued 13 recommendations for action to reduce the risk of future privacy breaches.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Worshipping together: three United churches in Chilliwack amalgamate

Chilliwack United, Rosedale United and Mt. Shannon United are now known as Cheam View United Church

No fines issued in Chilliwack under new winter tire rules

Wondering if there was any cause for enforcement of the new winter tire rules? Us too

Mistrial declared in Chilliwack’s David Lee Roth impersonator underage sex case

David Kuntz-Angel convicted in August but BC Supreme Court Justice’s ‘mental faculties’ questioned

Housing needs of Chilliwack are the focus of new survey

City of Chilliwack is gathering information about housing needs of residents now and down the line

Chilliwack’s Greg DeVries being inducted into Canada West Hall of Fame

The former sharpshooter led the University of Alberta to a pair of national basketball titles.

WHO says China virus not global health emergency

The decision came after Chinese authorities moved to lock down three cities on Thursday

VIDEO: ‘Porn’ answer was a wrong one for Surrey family on ‘Feud’ game show

Surrey’s Rams competed on the TV show Wednesday night

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

Abandoned boats left to freeze on Okanagan Lake cause chaos

Over the last week weather conditions have caused three separate incidents

Jack-knifed semi closes Coquihalla northbound

A red liquid is reportedly spilled down the side of Highway 5

B.C. teacher witnesses coronavirus terror in Shanghai: ‘Everyone is on edge’

Face masks and hand sanitizer ‘sell out’ as 9 SARS-like illness cases confirmed in the city

B.C.-based firefighting plane crashes in Australia, killing three

Three people are confirmed dead in the crash in New South Wales

VIDEO: Man attacked with pipe in apparent SkyTrain fare gate dispute

Transit police looking for suspect after Jan. 14 attack at Main Street-Science World Station

B.C. youth sentenced for selling fatal dose of MDMA to girl, 13

Sale was made at a New Westminster SkyTrain station in 2017

Most Read