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Hamilton Health Sciences says 8 employees fired for medical record 'snooping'

Health file photo. Health file photo.

Eight employees at Hamilton Health Sciences have been terminated after their employer alleges they “inappropriately accessed” the personal health information of thousands of patients.

In a statement released this week, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) said the privacy breach involved 4,000 patients.

“There is no evidence that patients’ health information was printed, downloaded, or electronically shared with anyone,” the statement read. “We have concluded that these were snooping cases.”

A letter has been issued to affected patients and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario has been notified.

Patients impacted by the breach can also contact the hospital at 905-521-2100, ext. 77488, for more information.

“We want to sincerely apologize to everyone who is affected by the breach,” said Aaron Levo, the vice-president of People, Culture and Communications at HHS.

“This incident is not consistent with HHS’ values or those of our staff and physicians at large.

The statement went on to say that the hospital has implemented a “number of policies, systems, and processes,” to prevent further privacy breaches, including staff training, routine and random audits of access to patient information, and an ongoing review of hospital systems and information-sharing practices.

“Every patient has a right to privacy and everyone at HHS is trained and educated to safeguard this right,” Levo said.

“As a continuous improvement organization, HHS consistently looks for ways to improve its practices to further minimize the risk of privacy breaches. The same is expected of every person who works and learns here.”

When asked if the police have launched an investigation into the privacy breach, a spokesperson for HHS said only that it has “informed the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) and the regulatory colleges where appropriate.”

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