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Medical Letters Found In Rubbish Dumped By Doctor

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Medical Letters Found In Rubbish Dumped By Doctor

Auckland, Dec 28 NZPA - Waikato District Health Board (DHB) investigators are confident they have established who was responsible for medical referral letters found dumped in a rubbish bin on Christmas Eve -- a serious breach of patient confidentiality.

The DHB's communications director Mary Anne Gill said today it appeared they were in the care of a doctor from Waikato Hospitals's radiology department who was renting a flat near to where the documents were found, in a paper recycling bin by Claudelands Bridge, Hamilton.

The 10 letters, which appear to be faxed copies rather than the originals, contained patient names, addresses and national health numbers. DHB workers were still searching the area to see if further documents had been disposed of in this way.

"It doesn't appear to be anything malicious so we've gained some sense of comfort from that, but we do consider this as a very serious breach of patient confidentiality. It is patient information that should be stored either in records at Waikato Hospital or securely disposed," Ms Gill told NZPA.

The doctor was away on annual leave and could not be contacted to find out what exactly had happened.

The clinical procedures referred to in the documents had all been completed and Ms Gill said they were reasonably confident that, if there were further missing letters, any clinical work mentioned in them would also have been done.

Ms Gill said until they spoke to the doctor they would not pre-empt what action, if any, would be taken against her.

"But our policy is quite clear as to what should happen to patient information.

"The fact that they've turned up 2.5km away from the hospital on the other side of the river is really of major concern to us."

The letters are dated from October and November. The originals are kept on the patients' files which stay in Waikato Hospital.

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