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Privacy commissioner finds doctors snooped in Humboldt Broncos patient records

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  • REGINA — Saskatchewan’s privacy commissioner has found eight people inappropriately gained access to the electronic health records of 10 Humboldt Broncos team members involved in a bus crash last April.

    Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured in the crash between the junior hockey team’s bus and a semi trailer at a rural Saskatchewan intersection.

    “Due to the high-profile nature of the crash, eHealth Saskatchewan understood the risk of snooping,” said a report from information and privacy commissioner Ronald Kruzeniski.

    The report said the health agency began monitoring the profiles of the patients — which included lab results, medication information and chronic diseases — three days after the crash.

    “Between April 9, 2018, and May 15, 2018, eHealth detected eight users of the viewer, mostly physicians, accessed without apparent authority the profiles of 10 patients.”

    The report shows eHealth reported the breaches to the privacy commissioner July 5.

    “This has been a major tragedy in our province and I’m disappointed that people got tempted,” Kruzeniski said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Monday. “Now that it’s happened, it’s my job to work with others through education and legislative change (to) make the system work.”

    His report, which has been posted online, detailed the privacy breaches.

    In one case, an employee of a medical clinic examined the health information of three people involved in the collision.

    The assistant admitted she consulted the records because “her family members had heard one of the individuals had died and she wanted to verify the information; she thought another individual was a patient … (and) she wanted to verify a detail that was reported by the media about one of the individuals.”

    The report said the employee’s access to eHealth was suspended and she was given further training, but she has since resigned.

    Another case involved a doctor at a Humboldt clinic who viewed the records of two people, including one who was a patient prior to the crash.

    “Dr. D wanted to know what injuries the individual sustained, if the individual received care or if it was an instant fatality,” said the report. “For the other individual, it explained Dr. D was concerned.”

    Other cases included three doctors who provided emergency care at the Nipawin Hospital and who reviewed patient records of those they treated.

    “They believed they were in the individuals’ ‘circle of care,'” said the report.

    The privacy commissioner said the province’s Health Information Protection Act does not address circles of care so the doctors were no longer authorized to access the records.

    “You are entitled to access when you have a need to know, not an anticipated need, not, ‘Gee, I might like to know.”

    Another case saw a medical resident view the information of three patients because she wanted to get closure on the cases, which is not an acceptable reason.

    During the monitoring period, two other medical residents looked at the records of one crash patient when the residents were reviewing the records of dozens of other patients with a particular illness.

    Kruzeniski made a number of recommendations to eHealth —including that it conduct regular monthly audits for the next three years of the physicians involved.

    Kruzeniski also recommended that the organization comply with a need-to-know principle rather than a circle-of-care concept and that users of EHealth be made to regularly review their training.

    A statement from eHealth said it took a number of measures to address the breaches, including notifying the privacy commissioner and the families affected.

    It terminated the account of the medical office assistant, suspended the accounts of the medical residents until they had further training and sent letters to the doctors. It’s also reviewing the recommendations from the privacy commissioner.

    The Saskatchewan Health Authority said it is following up on the report and apologized to the patients and their families.

    “We are deeply sorry that the situations described in the privacy commissioner’s reports may add to their stress,” the authority said in a statement.

    “We believe the physicians cited in the cases … specifically those who provided care to the patients affected, acted in good faith and out of sincere concern for the patients and families touched by this terrible tragedy.”

    The health authority said it will work with the Ministry of Health on possible amendments to privacy regulations.

    — By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton.

    The Canadian Press



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    Alberta

    As Hair Massacure Returns for Another Year, Here’s A Moving Look at How it Began

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  • On February 22, 2019, thousands of heads will be shaved in honour of the journey of sick children losing their hair due to chemotherapy.

    People will gather once again at the Toyota Mayfield Ice Palace at West Edmonton Mall to collectively shave their heads, raising money in support of Albertans facing cancer.

    The Hair Massacure is founded, supported and organized by The MacDonald Family, in honour of their daughter Kali, a childhood cancer survivor.

    The MacDonald family partners once again with the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada and supports Terry Fox Profyle, a Pediatric cancer research project.

    With the support of their partners, the family plans to scale Hair Massacure to the national level with the support of the Children’s Wish Foundation, continuing to raise funding for pediatric cancer research and for children with life threatening illnesses.

    Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada

    Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada is a 100% Canadian charity that grants the single-most heartfelt wishes of Canadian children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. Every wish is as unique as the child making it.  In Alberta and the NWT, we grant a Wish every three days and approve around 180 new Wishes each year. Wish referrals can be made by anyone who has a child in their lives between the ages of 3-17 and meets the medical criteria. Become a supporter of the largest Wish granting organization in Canada today!

    Terry Fox Profyle

    For the first time in Canadian history, more than 30 pediatric cancer research and funding organizations have joined forces through Terry Fox PROFYLE, a pan-Canadian project to give children, adolescents and young adults who are out of conventional treatment options another chance to beat their cancer. Short for PRecision Oncology For Young peopLE, the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) and these research and funding partners are working and fundraising together under a unique partnership that to date is providing a total of $16.4 million to molecularly profile the tumours of these patients, no matter where they live in Canada. For example, if Terry Fox had been diagnosed with cancer today, he would have been eligible for PROFYLE when the tumour returned and spread to his lungs. A $5-million investment by TFRI is the catalyst bringing together top scientists and clinicians, research centres, cancer charities and foundations at children’s hospitals across the country to create new hope for young people who need it the most.

    Video produced by Storyteller Productions .


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    Health

    Health agency hunts for Canadians who had surgery at Tijuana clinic

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  • OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada says at least 30 Canadians who had surgery at a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico are at risk of potentially deadly infection.

    But the agency isn’t sure, because of the difficulty in responding to health alerts in other countries.

    An investigation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control last month found Canadians underwent weight-loss surgeries at the Grand View Hospital in Tijuana, just like American patients who became infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria. Tijuana is right next to the U.S. border, close to San Diego.

    “It may be that we never know the exact number of Canadians involved,” said Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public-health officer. “We’re trying to ensure that all patients … should be having communications from the treating facility to inform them of their potential risk so that they can do medical follow-ups.”

    The federal public-health agency issued a notice Wednesday recommending patients who went to the Grand View Hospital, or other Tijuana facilities, starting last August, seek medical help immediately if they’re experiencing signs of infection, including fever, redness, or pus or swelling at the surgical site.

    The bacteria involved is called pseudomonas aeruginosa, and it’s a known hazard in medical settings, especially for patients who have had surgery.

    The health agency also warns of risk of blood-borne infections including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C due to poor equipment sterilization at Grand View. Other patients are advised to avoid the hospital until Mexican authorities give the all-clear.

    Medical tourism presents a challenge to health authorities because Canadians are under no obligation to report when they’ve had treatments abroad, Njoo said.

    “We can’t demand or track any Canadian who decides to go overseas,” said Njoo. “Anyone could be going abroad for tourism and if that includes going for an elective procedure in a medical facility that’s not something that we would necessarily be aware of.”

    A 2017 survey by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery found Canadians were the third-biggest market for plastic surgery outside their home country, behind only Americans and Spaniards.

    According to Statistics Canada, overseas health-related spending by Canadians rose from $447 million in 2013 to $690 million in 2017.

    Stephen Cook, The Canadian Press


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