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Protecting an individual's personal information against fraud and theft continues to be a serious problem facing banks, retailers and of course, hospitals. Early this year, a laptop that was taken offsite by a Hospital for Sick Children researcher was stolen. The laptop contained the personal health information (PHI) of 2,900 patients (listing names, medical conditions). A number of the patients were UHN patients. This was not an isolated incident, but rather just another example reminding us how patient information can be compromised. As recent as last December, UHN experienced it's own privacy breach when a staff member's laptop containing patient information was stolen from his home.
Yesterday, Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) Ann Cavoukian called on health information custodians, including hospitals, to enhance their privacy practices and policies under thePersonal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). In her report, she outlines the following measures:
So what does this mean for UHN? It means taking a good, hard look at our current privacy policies and practices to identify any potential gaps. Overall, IPC's recommendations are consistent with UHN's policies so we're in a good position to strengthen our approach. SIMS, working closely with the Research Ethics Board and the Research IT department, will be leading a number of initiatives to protect against security breaches:
All of these steps, including the other measures recommended by the IPC will be implemented by June 15, 2007. For more helpful tips, I encourage you to read an earlier Straight Talk, "Help Protect Privacy at UHN."
Thanks everyone for making privacy and security a priority at UHN.