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Inappropriate access investigation prompts patient notification

September 26, 2016

EDMONTON – Following the conclusion of a privacy investigation, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is notifying 1,309 Albertans that their health information was inappropriately accessed by a former AHS employee. An additional 11,539 individuals will also be notified that their demographic information was viewed by this same former employee. These notifications will be completed through direct-mailed letters, which will be mailed today, Monday, September 26, 2016.

The inappropriate accesses, which took place between January 2004 and July 2015, occurred in the electronic health record systems, Netcare and Netcare Personal Directory. The accuracy of the breached patient records has not been altered or impacted.

"The protection of patient privacy is not only a legislated duty of our employees, it's part of our patient-first culture, and our values," says Dr. Francois Belanger, AHS Interim Vice President – Quality and Chief Medical Officer. "We take privacy incidents very seriously, and continue to work with our employees to ensure they’re supported with privacy education and regular communication."

AHS was first alerted to potential inappropriate accesses by complaint from another AHS employee, which triggered a look-back audit process into all accesses made by this former employee. The matter was also reported to both Alberta Health and the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner of Alberta.

To support those impacted by this breach, AHS has a call-in line established, through Health Link. Information about this call-in line is included in the notification letters that have been sent to all impacted individuals. The letters also include information to support these individuals in requesting a full audit log of all accesses to their Netcare records. This is a service provided through Alberta Health.

Letters are expected to be delivered within five to seven business days; only those individuals who receive letters have been impacted by this breach.

"We understand that this information will be concerning to Albertans, and it is to us as well. Be assured: privacy is as important to us as it is to you," says Dr. Belanger. "We thank the vast majority of our employees who uphold patient privacy daily, while delivering high quality and compassionate care."

For more information on AHS' Privacy Office, visit http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/about/Page8170.aspx.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Shannon M. Evans
AHS Communications
403-618-1960
shannon.evans@ahs.ca