Nurse suspended for privacy breach

Last updated 19:12 17/09/2013

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A former Dunedin enrolled nurse who illegally accessed details of a patient's termination of pregnancy and then texted another person about it has been suspended from practising.

Rayleen Jeanette Park has appeared before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal on charges under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.

In a tribunal decision released today Park has had her registration as an enrolled nurse suspended for three months.

She had admitted inappropriately accessing the health information of a patient when she had no authority to do so, breaching the patient's privacy, and telling another person, who was not identified, that she was aware of the information.

The tribunal decision said Park had not been working as an enrolled nurse since hurting her back.

She has been a booking administrator for the Southern District Health Board.

About January 27, 2011, Park accidentally typed in the wrong date when opening a day-surgery operating theatre list.

This brought up the following day's termination of pregnancy list operating list.

Parksaw the name of the patient in question, who remains unidentified, on the list. She then texted an unidentified person that she had seen the information.

Park committed a total of six breaches when she accessed the patient's electronic file, the decision says.

Between January 26 and March 8, she searched for details such as the patient's name, address, phone number , next of kin, and after the date of the termination, lab results, and, apparently, the patient discharge summary.

On one occasion in March, Park used a colleague's computer to access the patient's record. On the same day she opened the record to look at the outpatient history.

On March 15, Park informed the Southern DHB's charge nurse of women's health outpatients Alison Gemmell that she had accidentally brought up the termination of pregnancy list.

She said she knew what she had done was wrong and she had decided to "come clean".

It transpired that when Park sent the unidentified person the text, they had responded by saying that Park had breached the patient's privacy. The person said they would "come down and tell her boss".

Park had responded by trying to cover her tracks. She said her text had been about a piece of clothing and she had sent the text to the wrong person.

After Park's admission to Gemmell, a disciplinary meeting was held on March 22, 2011, where Park outlined her typing accident, admitted she had looked up the patient's name, address, phone number and next of kin, and that she had sent the text.

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Park said she had accessed the list only once and that it was accidental. She did not mention she had also accessed the patient's electronic file.

A subsequent search of the DHB's Healthview IT system revealed the breaches, the decision said.

Park's suspension begins from the date of the tribunal decision, August 28, 2013.

Park may practise again only if she completes privacy training and education, within three years of resuming practise, to the satisfaction of the Nursing Council of New Zealand.

- Fairfax Media

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