It seems that everyone in Alberta, Canada, is infuriated after a breach of 620,000 patient records went unannounced for four months, local newspapers report.
Jill Clayton, Albertas Information and Privacy Commissioner, learned of a Sept. 26, 2013, laptop theft on Oct. 1, but did not investigate or notify anyone else. That included Health Minister Fred Horne, who did not learn of the breach until January 21 when he received a letter from the affected provider organization--Medicentres Family Health Care Clinics--which operates 25 clinics in Edmonton and Calgary, the Edmonton Sun reports.
Clayton says the Health Information Act gives her no legal ability to inform Horne or force the provider to inform patients, and she called for changes to the law. Horne told the newspaper that patient interests should have come first. The Calgary Herald reports that Clayton did not investigate the breach because Medicentres reported it to her, but had she investigated she could have released information.
The unencrypted laptop belonged to a contractor of Medicentres. Compromised information included patient name, date of birth, insurance card number, billing codes and diagnostic codes. Health Minister Horne told reporters on Jan. 22 that he was outraged the breach was not reported sooner and that it is clear personal information has been compromised, according to the Herald.
The breach affects about one in six residents of Alberta, and Medicentres recently placed notices of the incident in major newspapers, suggesting that patients check their financial accounts and credit reports. The company now has encrypted all laptops.
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