WATCH: An Island Health Victoria support staff member accessed the files of 34 patients. The employee was caught in an audit of the electronic system. Monica Martinez reports.
Once again, Island Health faced the media to apologize for the latest privacy breach of patient information.
“It is a serious problem that we recognize whenever we have staff who are inappropriately accessing patient information,” said Dr. Brendan Carr, Island Health President & CEO.
A Victoria employee in a care support role accessed the files of 34 patients between January 2015 and June of this year.
Island Health launched an investigation after an audit confirmed the staff member abused their access privilege.
“In the recent cases we’ve looked at, it does seem to be an issue of curiosity. In fact, there is no other reason that we can find or no other gain we’ve been able to identify,” said Dr. Carr.
This is the fourth breach in two years affecting 383 patients.
Last month, Island Health revealed their largest privacy breach in history where two non-clinical support staff snooped through the records of 198 patients.
In April of last year, an employee was fired after accessing the files of 39 patients and in October of 2014, two nurses were caught viewing the health records of 112 family, friends and co-workers.
B.C.’s Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner said it is a serious concern and he would like to see offenders face a significant financial penalty.
“We think a fine of upto $25,000 would be a significant deterrent to the employees,” said Drew McArthur.
It is up to the province now to amend existing legislation.
Last year, the previous privacy commissioner released 13 recommendations calling for immediate action by health authorities to boost privacy protection.
“We want to make sure the public has trust in the health care system and in the confidentiality of those records,” McArthur said.
Island Health is in the process of notifying affected patients.
The employee no longer works there.
The health organization promised it is learning from its mistakes and is looking at beefing up protocol to protect patient privacy.