Alberta privacy commish blasts clinic that lost 620,000 patients’ files

Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton, seen with Director of Compliance Brian Hamilton,...

Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton, seen with Director of Compliance Brian Hamilton, announced Thursday that she will launch an investigation into the theft of a laptop containing thousands of private health records. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI Agency)

Matt Dykstra, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:42 PM ET

EDMONTON — Alberta's privacy commissioner has ruled that a network of health clinics violated the Health Information Act by failing to safeguard the personal health data of over 620,000 Albertans that was contained on a laptop stolen last September.

The laptop was stolen from an information technology consultant working for Medicentres on Sept. 26, 2013.

It contains the names, birth dates, provincial health card numbers, billing codes, and diagnostic codes of 620,000 Albertans seen at private walk-in clinics between May 2, 2011, and Sept. 19, 2013.

An investigation was launched on Jan. 23, 2014.

In an investigative report released Friday, senior information and privacy manager Elaine Fitzgibbon found that Medicentres contravened the act by failing to consider privacy risks and encrypt the information on the laptop.

"While it is permissible to authorize others to carry out duties regarding health information management and protection, custodians cannot divest themselves of responsibility,” she wrote.


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