Physician’s personal email hacked; medical records of 7,000 patients potentially compromised

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Alberta Health Services –  the largest single health authority in Canada, is contacting about 7,000 patients to notify them the security of their personal health information may have been compromised, Calgaryherald reported.

According to the report, a physician working at Calgary’s Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre said that his personal Gmail account, which he used to transmit health information, has been hacked.

“This breach is unacceptable and should never have occurred and we are certainly apologizing to our patients whose privacy may have been breached,” said Dr. Ted Braun, AHS vice president and medical director for central and southern Alberta.

“Alberta Health Services has been working with the physician to identify the patients who may have been involved and working with him to develop resources and supports for them.”

He said letters to the affected patients will go out early next week.

Ted Braun said the account was improperly used to convey health details, which include patients’ names, dates of birth, addresses, personal health numbers and limited diagnostic and treatment information.

The incident directly contravenes the information security and privacypolicies that prohibit conducting clinical business on behalf of AHS and AHS patients using non-AHS-issued email accounts.

No evidence suggests patients’ personal and health care information has been accessed by the hacker, however, police are currently investigating the matter and AHS is conducting an internal review. Braun said the physician is being co-operative.

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Alberta Health Services delivers medical care on behalf of the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Health through 400 facilities throughout the province. AHS is the largest single health authority in Canada and is the largest employer in the province of Alberta as well as being the fifth largest single employer in Canada.

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