WATCH: Growing concern after the B.C. Government waited months to notify thousands of patients about a disturbing PharmaNet breach. Tess van Straaten reports.
The personal health information of about 7,500 British Columbians may have been compromised after another PharmaNet breach.
“I am profoundly disturbed that happened,” premier Christy Clark told reporters. “Everybody in this province wants to know that our health information is kept confidential. There are very few things in your life as private.”
The Ministry of Health says PharmaNet. which links pharmacies to a central information system, was accessed by an unknown/unauthorized person who also looked at the medication history of 80 people over the last 14 months.
But they don’t know who — or why.
“We are working diligently to investigate the motivation behind this, first of all, and how it happened as well and a separate review of security is also on-going,” says health minister Terry Lake.
The breach was detected by Medinet during a routine monthly audit last year.
Not the first PharmaNet breach
It’s not the first time this has happened.
In 2014, about 1,600 patients had their private data accessed by an unknown hacker who stole a physician’s login.
The NDP say it’s clear the Liberals aren’t doing enough to protect privacy.
“I’m staggered that this continues to happen,” NDP leader John Horgan says. “There’s no shortage of people providing their info to government and it’s their responsibility to protect that and they fail time and time again.”
Even more concerning — B.C.’s privacy commissioner says they can’t be sure it won’t happen again.
“I can’t say with any system using electronic access that we’re confident there won’t be breaches,” B.C. privacy commissioner Drew McArthur told CHEK News. “The bad people are always one step ahead.”
The privacy commissioner is also concerned the government waited months to tell the affected patients.
Government waited several months to tell patients about breach
“We were notified of the breach in late September of last year and the notification has just gone out to individuals,” McArthur says. “We think that should have been earlier.”
But the health minister claims it took time to gather information.
“We had to do a little bit of work before we could notify people to try and understand the type of information that was being accessed,” explains Lake.
It’s not yet clear when the internal investigation will be complete.
The premier says if any government employees or people who receive fees from the government are responsible, they’ll be fired immediately.