Patient records were breached 40 times by hospital workers in Western Australia who accessed confidential information inappropriately from 2014 and 2017, with none of them losing their jobs.
According to WA’s The Sunday Times, which was provided with the concerning stats following numerous requests to the Department of Health, the employees were disciplined with written warnings, counselling, a formal reprimand, training and an “improvement action”.
Fourteen of the breaches occurred at Perth’s South Metropolitan Health Service, which includes the state’s flagship Fiona Stanley Hospital.
North Metropolitan Health Service saw 13 of the data violations, while 10 occurred at East Metropolitan Health Service, two at the Children and Adolescent Health Service and one at the WA Country Health Service.
A WA Health Department spokesman told The Sunday Times the breaches “occurred in hospitals across the state, with the majority committed by frontline and clerical staff”.
The staff were found to have snooped on the dozens of medical records in contravention of the State’s Health Services Act between 2014-15 and 2016-17.
“The Department of Health takes the privacy and security of information very seriously, with strict mechanisms in place to protect the privacy of our patients,” the spokesperson said.
None of the 40 cases led to termination of employment.
The news follows the South Australian Government’s release in August of its latest quarterly privacy breach update, which confirmed a SA Health worker had been sacked for accessing patient health records without authorisation, bringing the total to 13 since February.
As part of the SA Government’s crack down on the unethical conduct, another employee received a final warning for spying on medical records.
According to the Adelaide Advertiser, 26 employees had been disciplined in 2018.
Earlier this year 21 staff were caught spying on confidential patient information, including 13 who accessed the records of alleged murderer Cy Walsh following the death of his father Phil Walsh, who was the celebrated coach of the Adelaide Crows AFL team.
At least nine patients were reported to have had their medical records inappropriately accessed by health staff, with SA Health vowing in February to report quarterly on the questionable practice.
Meanwhile, in a hospital admin assistant in the UK allegedly accessed the confidential records of her boyfriend’s ex to gain her contact details, then sent a stream of abusive texts.
An apparently jealous Amy Docker, 23, texted Candice Collier, 28, calling her a “slag bag” among the colourful epithets.
“I couldn’t believe it – it was so bizarre. It’s such an incredibly immature thing to do. I literally do not care about this man,” Collier told The Sun Online.
“It scares me that she’s able to dig my contact details out. It wasn’t just my number, she got my address as well. She might have had my medical records for all I know. How is she allowed to access this stuff?”
Hospital management confirmed to Collier that a human resources investigation had been conducted into the case.
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