Patient left alone with confidential document raises privacy concerns

Sylvia Andrighetti was alone in an examining room at the Hull Hospital in Gatineau, Que., last month when she saw something she shouldn't have.

"I was there in the examination room for 10 minutes doing nothing but waiting," Andrighetti said in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada.

"Then I looked and, not even three feet away from me, there was a document showing a list of patients."

The sheet of paper contained a trove of confidential information: patients' names, ages, telephone numbers, health insurance numbers and appointment times.

Andrighetti said she was left alone with the document three or four times during that appointment and could have taken that information each time.

The incident, she said, has left her concerned about how the hospital handles confidential information.

Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada

The region's health authority, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO) did not agree to an interview with Radio-Canada.

It said in a statement all doctors use these sorts of lists and they're sometimes left out if the doctor is temporarily away.

Patients should not look at the information, the health authority said.

Common incident, lawyer says 

Incidents like these are quite common in the health care system, said health lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard.

"They don't pay attention … They don't look at who's going to have access to [these documents]," Ménard told Radio-Canada in French. 

Radio-Canada

Information protection protocols in hospitals need to be better enforced and breaches should be condemned, he said, adding that he's concerned about CISSSO's response.

The onus should be on hospital staff to ensure the patient information is kept confidential, Ménard said. 

A hidden camera investigation by Radio-Canada in 2018 also revealed lax security at the hospital's hematology and biochemistry lab.