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Medical Letters Found In Rubbish

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Medical Letters Found In Rubbish

Auckland, Dec 27 NZPA - Residents of the Claudelands area of Hamilton East are being urged to contact Waikato Hospital if they find any medical referral letters in their rubbish.

Waikato District Health Board has launched an investigation into how the letters ended up in rubbish, due for collection near the Claudelands Bridge, on Christmas Eve.

Health Waikato chief operating officer Jan Adams said the most important thing now was to recover the radiology referral letters to ensure everything "clinically" within them had been done.

The letters contain a patient's name, address and national health number. Typically they also have a doctor's name as the referrer.

Letters already recovered by staff, who have searched the area, appear to be faxed copies rather than original letters.

"We consider this is a breach of patient confidentiality which we will investigate accordingly," said Mrs Adams.

The referral letters are routinely faxed by doctors from other DHBs and hospitals to Waikato Hospital's radiology department requesting further tests be done to ascertain patients' problems.

The letters recovered in the rubbish appear to be faxed letters that have come in for us to take action, Waikato DHB communications director Mary Anne Gill said.

"Those letters, once they've been actioned, normally go into a secure destruction bin and are securely disposed of at Waikato Hospital.

"Of the letters we've recovered, we've checked whether the clinical actions have taken place, and they have been actioned.

"Our investigation will be looking at how these letters turned up 2.5 kilometres away from the hospital in a domestic collection area, because they would normally be disposed of in a secure bin on the hospital site.

"We discovered this yesterday. We've been searching around the area ourselves again today, and have found ten letters. But there may be others within the domestic rubbish," Ms Gill told NZPA.

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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