Error in eHealth fax system results in privacy breach

Jodi Schellenberg
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Another reporting error has been made -- but this one isn’t the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region’s fault.

The eHealth Saskatchewan, the Treasury Board Crown Corporation responsible for the implementation of the provincial electronic health record, mistakenly faxed 18 results in the province to a private residence.

Out of those results, one patient was from the PAPHR, said Doug Dahl, communications director of PAPHR.

“They have been notified of the privacy breach of their information being faxed to a wrong number,” Dahl said.

The fax service used by eHealth is automated, CEO Susan Antosh explained.

“All of the results are available electronically but some of the physicians prefer to receive the results faxed as well,” Antosh said. “There is an automated fax service and in that fax service you would tag a phone number to a provider and then whenever a result came through for that provider, it would automatically be sent to that particular phone number.”

This error was caused by an employee entering the phone number in wrong, which meant the results were sent to a private residence, Antosh said.

“The results have now all gotten to the physician and have all been resent to the physician,” Antosh said. “I don’t know at this point if there were any impacts to patient care but that is certainly something that we always check on when an event like this occurs.”

Dahl said as far as he knows, the error did not affect the Prince Albert patient.

“There may have been some delays but I don’t believe that’s what happened for the patient in the Prince Albert Parkland Region,” Dahl said. “It was an issue with the provincial system.”

The main issue eHealth is facing because of this error is regarding privacy, Antosh said.

“In this case there was also a privacy breach because the documents went to a private residence,” Antosh said. “As soon as any result is being sent somewhere other than where it should have gone, it is a privacy breach.”

Although someone did not go looking for the results, since they were sent to the wrong fax number it is considered a privacy breach, she said.

“The documents have been disposed of so it is not a continuing privacy breach,” Antosh said.

As well as the documents sent to the private residence being destroyed, eHealth also reported the incident to the Saskatchewan Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

“All of the patients have been informed and we have a number of processes that are put in place in order to try to avoid this happening but occasionally people do type in wrong phone numbers,” Antosh said. “That is what happened in this case. The employee is being talked to and it is again being iterated how important it is to have absolute accuracy in this.”

Antosh said there should not have been much of a delay in the results for patients because test results are also available electronically even though some doctors prefer to receive a paper copy instead.

“We do have all of these results available electronically, so even if the providers did not receive them (by fax), they have been available to the provider during the entire period of time,” Antosh said. “It does not necessarily mean there is an impact on the patient, but that is certainly something we are checking out.”

The company apologizes for the error and is taking steps to try to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“This kind of thing does periodically happen,” Antosh said. “It is certainly not something we like to have happen and eHealth takes full responsibility for the error. We really do regret any concerns or any difficulties that may have happened as a result.”

Organizations: Treasury Board Crown, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Office of the Information

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Prince Albert Parkland Region

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page