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Tallaght admits confidentiality breach
[Posted: Wed 03/08/2011 www.irishhealth.com]
Dublin's Tallaght Hospital has now admitted that patient medical records have been accessed and disclosed without authorisation.
The hospital has also admitted that while it was its policy not to identify individual patients, this policy has not always been adhered to, according to RTE News.
This is fourth controversy about Tallaght Hospital services in just over a year, following safety scandals over x-ray reporting, unprocessed GP referral letters and conditions in its emergency department.
Tallaght's admission that confidential patient data may have been wrongly disclosed follows its claim last month that reports that it had referred a potential data breach to the Data Protection Commissioner were unsubstantiated.
In recent years, the hospital has been using a private company to transcribe medical notes by consultants on consultations and letters from the hospital to GPs, and this data was being sent to the company's offices in the Philippines for transcribing.
The hospital said it had been its policy that no patient identifiers should be used, but this policy had not always been followed in practice.
Tallaght has said the contract with this firm had now ceased and it has moved to a new provider for this service.
The Gardai have been called in to aid the investigation into how patient data ended up in the wrong hands.
Health Minister James Reilly has expressed concern about the unauthorised disclosure of patient data.
He said he hoped a Data Protection Commissioner's probe on the issue can be finished as quickly as possible.
The hospital said that it is seeking the help of the Bureau of Investigations in the Philippines and the UK Information Commissioner.
It is trying to ensure that all data is returned to the hospital and its director of IT is in the Philippines working with the authorities there.
Deputy Data Protection Commissioner Gary Davis said the hospital had reported the matter to his office.
He told RTE the arrangements for how the patient information had been dealt with in the Philippines was in doubt and it appeared it had fallen into the wrong hands.
Mr Davis said patients needed to be assured that medical information about them was not going to find its way to unauthorised third parties.
Tallaght Hospital says that patients concerned with possible confidentiality breaches can use the free phone inquiry line - 1800 283 059.
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