Woman admits to reading confidential medical files
Published Tuesday, February 14, 2012 7:05PM AST
HALIFAX - There has been a significant privacy breach at Nova Scotia's largest health board after a former Hants Community Hospital employee inappropriately accessed the personal health information of more than 100 patients.
Kathy Zinck Lawrence admits that throughout her 11 years with Capital Health she looked at electronic medical records she wasn't authorized to read.
"I'm truly sorry and I sincerely regret it," Zinck Lawrence tells CTV News. "I understand that they're suffering because of it."
One of those people is Kathy's sister-in-law, Mary Schinold.
"It's embarrassing," says Schinold. "It's so embarrassing, knowing that this woman knows things that we haven't even told our families about, things you just wouldn't want anyone knowing and now what gives her the right to do that?"
Capital Heath originally reported that 15 files were compromised. Today, the health authority says a closer investigation revealed the problem was even bigger and that 120 files were inappropriately read.
Capital Health spokesman John Gillis said the breaches occurred between 2005 and last fall. Capital Health began an investigation last October after concerns were raised by other hospital staff members.
"The information was right there. So easy," says Zinck Lawrence. "Being nosy was probably part of it."
Zinck Lawrence has worked at Hants Community Hospital, the Cobequid Health Care Centre and the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. Patient files were accessed from all three hospitals.
"It is a very serious situation," says Capital Health spokesman John Gillis. "We know that to provide the best care we need to have a relationship of trust with individuals and with the public generally and an incident like this undermines that."
Gillis says everyone affected will be hearing directly from Capital Health, but Mary Schinold isn't happy with how things have been handled so far.
"I would like to see Kathy charged," says Schinold. "I would like to see her charged, like criminally. Definitely. Positively."
Zinck Lawrence resigned her position, worrying she would do it again if she went back to work.
"I wanted to admit my guilt openly," says Zinck Lawrence. "I was wrong. I apologize to those people and I just want it to be over."
The health authority is also apologizing for the breach.
Capital Health provides health services to nearly half a million people in Halifax and surrounding area
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell and The Canadian Press