Privacy Commissioner launches an investigation into theft of personal info
Published Thursday, January 23, 2014 5:13AM MST
Last Updated Thursday, January 23, 2014 12:35PM MST
Medicentres waited four months to let the public know personal information of thousands of patients had been stolen. Alberta's Informaton and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton has launched an investigation. S
She also says she has previously pushed for mandatory breach reporting; currently it is voluntary.
The confidential medical information of more than half a million Albertans has been compromised. Anyone who went to a Medicentres clinic, including on one of the nine in Calgary, could be impacted.
A laptop, belonging to an I.T. consultant working with Medicentres Inc. and containing the information of more than 600,000 Albertans, was stolen on September 26, 2013.
Names, provincial health card numbers, and diagnostic codes of hundreds of thousands of Albertans were stored on the computer.
The organization reported the theft to the Edmonton Police Service and Alberta’s Privacy Commissioner on October 1, but according to Information and Privacy Commissioner there is no legal requirement for anyone to report a situation like this, or even notify affected individuals.
Wednesday the Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne said he was told Tuesday about the theft. Horne said "to my knowledge, this is the first time this has been publicly disclosed and that is completely unacceptable in Alberta...I will pursue this to the full extent of the law.”
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith finds it surprising that one person can be trusted with the confidential information of so many people. “Why is it that a single person at a private company can amass 620,000 pieces of information on individual patients with all of this information in one place, unencrypted, and then have it stolen? It’s remarkable to me this has occurred.”
Medicentres Inc. apologized and released a statement, saying:
(Medicentres) has no information suggesting that the personal information contained on the laptop was accessed or misused. Affected patients are encouraged to review bank and credit card statements and report any unusual activity immediately to their financial institution. Affected patients can also visit the Privacy Commissioner’s website.
Medicentres is encouraging patients who went to any of the Medicentres clinics in the province between May 2, 2011, and September 19, 2013, and have questions - to call 780-484-8741 OR email MEDICENTRES.
Patients are also being asked to review their bank and credit card statements.