Binder of sensitive patient info goes missing from B.C. hospital

Information breach at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital as binder with patient data goes missing

  • Apr. 3, 2018 12:10 p.m.

Kamloops This Week

John Ranta isn’t happy about a privacy breach at Royal Inland Hospital.

The mayor of Cache Creek and former chair of the Thompson-Nicola Hospital District board said he was given a copy of a letter sent to one of the people in his community from RIH, advising that a binder with patient information went missing from the hospital.

The binder included names, addresses, phone numbers, ages, dates of birth, personal health-care numbers, family physicians, medication histories and information from colon scans.

The letter from Deana Rismondo, manager of the ambulatory care unit at the hospital, said since the records have not been found, “it is difficult to fully assess the level of risk to you.”

The letter recommends those affected contact credit-monitoring agencies Equifax Canada or TransUnion to have flags placed on their files. The missing binder has been reported to the province’s information privacy office and the letter said IH has taken action “to determine the cause of the privacy breach and educate users to mitigate the risk of future incidents.”

However, Ranta said, IH is not paying the $5.25 charge Equifax requires for such an alert — and he’s not happy about that.

Ranta said each letter was sent by registered mail at a cost of $9.84. Had they been sent through the regular mail, he said, IH could have covered the cost of all credit monitoring alerts and saved $4.59 per letter sent.

He said he raised the concern at a meeting last Thursday, asking IH CEO Chris Mazurkewich for details. Mazurkewich said he would look into it and get back to Ranta, something that had not happened as of Tuesday. But, Ranta noted, the intervening days were part of what for many people was a four-day Easter holiday weekend.

Ranta took particular aim at the concluding paragraph of the letter, one that includes an apology for the “unfortunate event.” but assures RIH has taken steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“Well, that’s like having a herd of cattle with all your personal info out in the field and someone opens the gate. The cattle are gone,” he said. “They’re out there somewhere.”

Last June, Mounties in the Lower Mainland contacted IH after arresting two people who had possession of information on a number of people, about 500 of whom worked for the health authority.

The information pertained to employee records of current and past staff. IH contacted all employees affected and offered to pay for credit-monitoring services for one year.

In 2014, a filing cabinet at RIH went missing. It contained names, birthdates, personal health-card numbers and medical-testing information of 1,628 patients. At that time, IH offered to cover the cost of credit monitoring alerts.

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