N.B. woman mystified after confidential info of four other patients is mailed to her house
Published Thursday, May 23, 2019 8:58PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, May 24, 2019 8:23AM ADT
A New Brunswick woman wants to know why she was sent confidential medical information about four other people and why the health authority was so slow to do anything about it.
Jeannine Godin of Nackawic says she received a package by courier from Horizon Health containing test results and confidential mail addressed to four other patients at Fredericton's Everett Chalmers Hospital.
Frustrated with Horizon Health’s slow response, her daughter took to social media to help find the intended recipients.
“They could be very important to these other women, who are waiting for maybe results or answers,” said Godin, who received the package two weeks ago.
Inside the courier package were four other sealed envelopes addressed to four different women. She says she immediately contacted the hospital in Fredericton and an employee asked her to return the documents to them.
But she doesn't live in the city, or drive. Godin says Horizon Health also suggested bringing the items to the local health centre or putting the letters in a cab.
“It shouldn't have to be, ‘take them here, take them there.’” Godin said. “I could have put stamps on them and sent them out myself.”
So that's when her daughter Jasmine Vezina stepped in.
She took to Facebook asking if anyone knew the four women who the envelopes were addressed to. Both mother and daughter say that's when efforts to retrieve the letters amped up.
“The fact that she made several attempts with no luck and then I had to go to social media to get this dealt with, it doesn't give me much hope in our healthcare system,” Vezina said.
CTV News contacted Horizon Health requesting an interview. In a statement, they admitted a privacy breach had occurred and they were investigating as to how it happened. They say the letters have been returned intact and unopened and that no personal medical information has been shared.
But that is of little comfort to Godin, who now feels a little less secure about her own medical information.
“These people, they're not going to trust them anymore,” Godin said. “I know I feel like I've been violated because I was sent 4 other letters.”
Vezina says situations like this shouldn’t happen –- and hopes they don’t happen again.
“But if in fact it does, that there's a better way to handle it and ensure confidential health communications get into the right hands the first time,” she said.
According to the hospital, a person's name and address are considered part of their health records, and as such, they are treating this situation as a serious privacy breach.
The Department of Health and the Integrity Commissioner's office have been notified, as well as the four impacted individuals.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jessica Ng.