Wednesday, January 16, 2013

B.C. Health Ministry data breach affects millions.


The personal health data of more than five million British Columbians was improperly stored or accessed, said B.C. Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, Monday.
The information was used by researchers for research only, MacDiarmid said, however regarding the most serious alleged privacy breach, letters will be sent out to 38,000 individuals this week.
“The ministry has confirmed that there have been three instances of health data that has been inappropriately accessed and the public needs to be aware of these,” MacDiarmid said, in a press conference.
The Health Ministry’s has been investigating allegations of conflict of interest, along with inappropriate conduct, data management and contracting out in its pharmaceutical services division since May.
Ministry investigators are looking at alleged privcy breaches regarding the storing and sharing of provincial and federal health data as well as research grant practices between Health Ministry employees and researchers at the Univeristy of Victoria and University of B.C.
In an update of the nine-month probe of “tens of thousands” of computer records dating back several years, MacDiarmid served up three examples of alleged wrongdoing Monday.
The alleged breaches in June 2012 and October 2010 do not include personal names, social insurance numbers or financial information.
However, they do include personal health numbers, birthdates, postal codes and in one case in which Statistics Canada data was being used, the breaches included information pertaining to individuals’ mental, physical and sexual health status.

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