Privacy breaches already at 20

Last updated 13:00 03/07/2013

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The fate of four clinicians who breached patient confidentiality by snooping into bashed cricket star Jesse Ryder's medical records will be known next week.

The spying was among 20 such privacy breaches dealt with by district health boards this year, some of which resulted in medical staff being sacked.

Since 2010 there have been a total of 62 patient privacy breaches in Auckland, compared to just three in Nelson-Marlborough.

The staff, involving a mixture of clerical and clinical, were either stood down or given formal warnings, a Nelson-Marlborough DHB spokesman said.

The Christchurch District Health Board (CDHB) apologised to Ryder in April and launched an investigation after a routine audit revealed there had been a breach of his X-ray records - just days after he was discharged.

Ryder spent six days in Christchurch Hospital after he was attacked by two men outside Aikmans Bar, in Merivale, in March.

Two of the clinicians were from West Coast DHB, one was from South Canterbury DHB and another was from Christchurch.

None had a role in Ryder's care.

CDHB chief executive David Meates told Fairfax last night the investigation was expected to be complete in the "coming week".

But the incident is not isolated.

District health boards have dealt with 20 privacy breaches already this year, according to data released under the Official Information Act.

As a consequence, some of those staff - including nurses and doctors - were dismissed.

And it is not just medical professionals crossing the line.

Administration staff were also guilty of looking up medical history and clinical records, including X-ray and laboratory results.

In another high-profile case, 33 Auckland City Hospital staff were disciplined after looking up details about a man who had an eel stuck up his bottom last September.

Staff were sacked and given verbal or written warnings after an investigation found there was no legitimate reason to access the patient's records, including his blood test results and discharge summary.

Initially 48 staff, including six senior medical officers, were investigated for the privacy breach that made headlines around the world.

Among health boards, Waitemata had the highest breach rate with 91 patient privacy breaches since 2010.

At Capital & Coast DHB, in Wellington, there have been 10 incidents over the past three years, involving doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and administration staff accessing electronic health records, lawyer Hiranthi Abegoonesekera said.

All staff were disciplined with action ranging from written warnings to dismissal, she said.

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- The Nelson Mail

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