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Calgary doctor to be sanctioned for unauthorized access to medical records

A doctor uses a tablet in a stock photo. (Getty Images) A doctor uses a tablet in a stock photo. (Getty Images)
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The provincial agency that oversees the conduct of physicians says a Calgary doctor's 16 seconds of accessing of medical records of a patient that wasn't hers was unprofessional.

A tribunal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) found Dr. Jung Hwa Lee guilty of unprofessional conduct last month.

In its reasons, the tribunal said Lee admitted to accessing the personal health information of a patient of one of her colleagues, but she said there was no "ill intention" behind the action.

According to information from an audit included in the tribunal's decision, Lee accessed the records on June 19, 2020, beginning at 5:39:43 p.m. and concluding at 5:39:59 p.m.

"The audit trail revealed that 'patient records,' 'vaccinations,' and other submodules of [the patient's] charts were accessed," the decision reads.

Lee told the tribunal that the reason why she was accessing the information was to learn more about how one of her colleagues was able to access services at the clinic while the facility was on lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the clinic had been open, it would have been easier for Lee to speak with her colleague directly and obtain the information she needed.

"She notes that a lot of people have forgotten how scary COVID was at the outset and that, in that environment, physicians were working remotely from home," the tribunal said. "Clinicians were not around their colleagues to discuss these issues and were working in a bit of a vacuum."

No matter what Lee's intentions were regarding the unauthorized access of information, the tribunal found her actions constituted unprofessional conduct.

"There is no evidence that Dr. Lee accessed the personal health information record of [the patient] with a reasonable medical indication for doing so or for the provision of care or emergency," the tribunal wrote.

"Dr. Lee admits that she intentionally accessed the personal health information record of [the patient] to obtain information in a personal investigation into matters that were of a private dispute.

"In so doing, Dr. Lee exhibited not only poor judgment but also knowingly contravened the Health Information Act and the Code."

A sanction hearing against Lee will occur at a later date.

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