Quality & Patient Safety

Australia: Medical histories leaked on the internet

Patient Safety Monitor: Global Edition, March 31, 2009

One of Queensland's biggest pathology labs has suffered a breach in privacy, affecting the lives of at least 100 patients, according to The Courier Mail. The names, contact numbers and private details of these patients have been posted all over the Web site of Brisbane-based Sullivan Nicolaides.

The breach affected patients referred by their physicians to Sullivan Nicolaides for the management of warfarin, a blood-thinning drug. The files, which date back to 2006 and 2007, include patients’ medical history, current medication list, and next of kin.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Harrison told the Courier Mail that the company removed the records within an hour of being alerted, and that the company had taken the security problem seriously. Harrison added that he "didn’t want this to be adverse publicity for e-health because electronic health records are crucial to ensuring patients get the right care."

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