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Privacy breaches involve former Waikato DHB staff member

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 04:08 PM

Privacy breaches involve former Waikato DHB staff member

Last updated 12:19, March 15 2016

The letter informs the staff member of the allegations of misconduct. The censorship has been added to the scanned documents to protect the privacy of those involved.

Private and confidential documents outlining a hospital worker's breach of privacy and confidentiality against an inmate were found strewn across a Raglan lawn.

Intact letters outlining the alleged misconduct of a Waikato Hospital staff member on February 3, and witness reports of the incident, were put into a domestic rubbish bag and set on the kerb for collection. The rubbish bag was savaged by an animal, leaving the private and confidential documents in public view. A Raglan resident discovered them and rang the media.

One of the letters outlines the Waikato DHB's allegations against the female team leader, which include improperly using DHB records to look up information on her partner, who is in prison.

Prisoners are not allowed to know details of their hospital appointments for security reasons and are not to interact with anyone other than corrections officers and doctors on their medical visits, unless otherwise approved by the prison director.

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But the staff member waited for the prisoner and his officer escorts in the hospital and spoke with him without permission, along with an orderly. An email from Spring Hill Corrections Facility says it put "the officers in an uncomfortable position having to deal with the prisoner when he is advised he is not to have contact with his partner while on medical escort".

An escort corrections officer reported the prisoner's doctor "said that she was shocked when the orderly started to speak to the prisoner".

The doctor told the corrections officer "she thought it was a set-up".

The DHB's information privacy policy states that staff are only allowed to access information for purposes that are directly related to their work responsibilities.

The allegations of serious misconduct letter says the staff member "acted in a way which could damage, or had the potential to damage, Waikato DHB's reputation and is considered in breach of Waikato DHB policies".
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"By accessing the prisoner's appointment schedule, you were not affording him the privacy and respect he was entitled to expect. Further, your actions had the potential to place the corrections officers at risk ..."

The letter says the DHB was conducting an investigation and if the staff member was found to be in breach of policies, her employment may be terminated.

Waikato DHB director people and performance Greg Peploe said the employee no longer works for the DHB.

The former staff member declined to talk about the employment dispute, but said she wasn't "that impressed" that her information was found by a stranger and said it was "bizarre".

She said she hadn't lived or stayed in Raglan.

Peploe said although the DHB does not discuss individual employment matters, the copies found do not belong to the DHB.

"We do not believe our copies of this document have been misplaced. Therefore, we do not believe we breached this employee's privacy.

"DHB staff are not allowed to access clinical records without a legitimate reason or authority and we have a staff privacy policy regarding this, which is in line with our obligations under the Privacy Act."

Central Regional Commissioner for the Department of Corrections Terry Buffery said: "Corrections expects that prisoners' health information is treated in confidence, like the health information of any other patient.

"To avoid putting Corrections staff at risk, we do not inform prisoners of the time of their appointment until immediately beforehand so ensure they do not have an opportunity to arrange for other people to contact them at the hospital.

"Public safety is Corrections' bottom line."

Gehan Gunasekara, an information privacy law specialist at Auckland University, said the documents should have been shredded before being discarded.

"Better information management systems are needed to make sure that confidential processes are protected. The individuals whose data it relates to could well bring a complaint.

"Currently there are no requirements to notify the privacy commissioner, or anyone, if there has been a breach of patient privacy or employee privacy, but there are voluntary guidelines that are normally complied with."

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