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Breach of privacy at St. Joseph's

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An employee at St. Joseph's Hospital in Estevan has been fired following a privacy breach at the hospital.

A regular audit of the pharmaceutical information program determined that the employee improperly accessed the records of seven individuals. The information program is a record of prescription medications that have been filled at community pharmacies in Saskatchewan. It is used for treatment and care of patients in a proper manner.

"That information is important for physicians for the treatment of patients," said St. Joseph's Hospital CEO Greg Hoffort.

All staff members are required to pledge to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of patient information, and St. Joseph's conducts regular audits of its records to ensure proper protection of health information.

The breach was discovered in mid-June.

"The accesses had occurred over the previous couple of months," said Hoffort.

The employee was immediately suspended, and has since been terminated. The investigation took about a week.

St. Joseph's has filed a report with the office of the privacy commissioner and is acting under their guidance.

Hoffort said the hospital tries to minimize incidents like this by having proper protocol and procedures in place.

"Because of that, we were able to find the breach in a timely manner," said Hoffort. "From that perspective, in light of a very unfortunate situation, we're very pleased to learn that we do have those protocols in place."

The individuals whose records were accessed have been notified. Hoffort said the hospital regrets that the situation occurred, and it has apologized to the affected individuals.


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