Hospital apologises for privacy breach

  • Breaking
  • 24/10/2013

A Wellington hospital has apologised for sending a woman's medical notes to a complete stranger.

She'd just had a hysterectomy at the Wakefield Hospital, which then sent the surgeon's notes on the operation to a woman in Palmerston North.

For her own privacy reasons the Palmerston North mother-of-two doesn't want to be identified. She was horrified to get the private records of a stranger's hysterectomy, performed in Wellington on Tuesday. Four pages'  worth.

"I was gobsmacked. I was really shocked and surprised. You hear it on TV, on the news and everything," she says.

"When it happens to you, I felt sorry for the woman who was involved."

The woman said she contacted the hospital immediately to alert them to the mistake but was taken aback by an initial lack of concern.

"When I told her the overview of it and how it was a breach of privacy, she was just blase about it," she says.

The female patient is still recovering in hospital. The recipient rang her son-in-law to warn him of the privacy breach - using the phone number from an email.

"He was very quiet, he was just taking it all in. He thanked me for ringing him and letting him know," she says.

The woman told 3 News she had never heard of the surgeon or his practice and had never had gynaecology surgery. She had no idea how or why she got sent the medical notes.

This afternoon a Wakefield Hospital spokesman told 3 News he was by shocked by the privacy breach and said action was immediately taken.

The patient was informed and received an apology. The email system was changed and the staff member responsible spoken too.

The Privacy Commission says it's a classic data breach but it's not the first time doctor's notes have been sent to the wrong person - there have been 12 reported cases since January last year.

3 News


source: newshub archive