A binder with the personal health information of roughly 3,300 people has been missing from the MCP office in Grand Falls-Windsor for almost two years, but the Department of Health says it found out last month.
"This is a matter I take very seriously. I apologize to those who may be impacted by this unfortunate incident," said Health Minister John Haggie in a press release advising the public of the privacy breach Thursday afternoon.
"Those with whom we share our personal health information have a legal obligation to ensure it is treated with the utmost care."
The department said it's advising the public of the privacy breach now after its executive was told on Oct. 23, 2019 that the binder had been missing since Jan. 25, 2018.
"A search was conducted, but the binder has not been located. The department is in the process of contacting people who may be affected," stated the press release.
It's not clear why it has taken almost two years to alert individuals who may have had their personal information shared, nor why it took that long for the department to be advised.
New system, training for staff
The release said the binder was maintained for tracking reimbursement applications to the Adult Dental Program and contains the names, MCP numbers, and partial addresses of people who applied between April 2015 and January 2018.
"Steps have been taken to update the claims tracking process and MCP now uses an electronic system with appropriate security features," the release continued.
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has been told of the breach.
Mandatory training is being provided to all staff "that reiterates the importance of privacy protection, breach protocols, and information management best practices," the department said.