West Coast health board in privacy blunder involving medical information

The West Coast District Health Board (DHB) has been accused of breaching patients privacy after giving private medical information to the wrong person.
It is the second time the DHB has come under fire after documents containing information about hundreds of patients were found blowing around a Christchurch street in 2019.

Greymouth man Alan Thompson recently requested his medical records from Te Nkau, Grey Hospital & Health Centre, but was shocked to receive information about another patient.

He had requested the records because he was unhappy with the treatment he had been receiving for back pain and wanted to seek a second opinion.


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His partner, Barbra Harding, said they sent a request about four weeks ago for Thompson's records from 2015 to 2021. He was then told he could pick them up from the DHB-owned and operated health centre, and would need to present two forms of identification.

Supplied
Te Nikau, Grey Hospital and Health Centre in Greymouth.

Harding and Thompson went to pick the records up on March 3.

The receptionist just handed him the envelope, and we walked out ... no questions asked, no ID checked.

He could have been anybody picking up someone else's confidential medical files, she said.

The files, which were in a sealed envelope, only dated back to 2018 and included another patients confidential medical information.

They rang the man named in the papers before driving back to the health centre to inform the DHB.

Thompson's records were missing notes from times he had seen a doctor.


Harding said they were both frustrated by not being able to get all of Thompsons medical notes.

West Coast DHB general manager Philip Wheble said the DHB treated its obligations to maintain patient privacy seriously.

Mistakes can occur, and these are reviewed and steps taken to mitigate future risk where we can.

We will not comment on specific situations in the media, but will respond to any complaints received from individuals, he said.

The man whose records were given to Thompson said he had no problem with the DHB and did not want to comment further.

Stuff
Greymouth man Alan Thompson received someone elses medical records amongst his own.

In 2019, West Coast DHB employee was investigated after misplacing hundreds of patients medical information.

The DHB became aware of what it called a potential privacy breach when a anggota of the public found some of the documents in the Christchurch suburb of Hornby.

The documents contained 300 peoples names and health numbers, and at least 15 patients private health information such as clinical notes. One affected patient said she was told her medical notes had blown away in a gust of wind.

The DHB said the documents were copies made as part of an employment investigation into the staff anggota and should never have included the names of patients. It said no patient treatment was affected by the incident.

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