Thousands of Health PEI patients, staff affected by privacy breach after laptop stolen

Prince Edward Island’s public health authority says its patients and staff may have had their personal information accessed after an employee’s laptop was stolen in early April.

The laptop contained data about more than 4,000 patients and more than 1,200 Health PEI employees. According to a news release from Health PEI, the laptop was password-protected and IT staff took steps to secure the information, including resetting the password.

Health PEI believes the likelihood of anyone being able to access the information from the laptop is low.

It says the majority of the information was about patients’ visits to P.E.I. emergency departments between Sept. 1 and Oct. 13, 2021. The information includes the patients’ reason for the visit, their diagnosis and the name of their doctor. Their names, dates of birth, health card numbers, gender and postal codes were also included.

The theft was reported to police the day after the laptop was stolen.

LONG-TERM CARE PATIENTS ALSO AFFECTED

Health PEI says some information was related to people in hospital awaiting long-term care. It affects fewer than 30 patients.

The information includes the patient’s name and health card number, and details about their admission to hospital, including the unit they were in, how long they were admitted and that they had been discharged.

The laptop also included the personal information of more than 1,200 Health PEI long-term care staff. This included names, positions, hours worked and their rate of pay.

Health PEI says no banking or financial information was included and the type of information in the files is not considered a risk for identity theft.

HEALTH PEI APOLOGIZES

“On behalf of Health PEI, I sincerely apologize to the patients and staff who have been affected by this breach. Patient information is incredibly sensitive and Health PEI takes the protection of personal health information seriously,” said CEO Dr. Michael Gardam in the news release. “Health PEI is conducting a full review of this situation to ensure any gaps in our protocols are discovered so we can make any changes to improve the security of patient information moving forward.”

Gardam also apologized to staff who were impacted by the breach.

“Employees have an expectation and right to privacy with regard to their personal information. This breach affected a large number of our long-term care staff who have gone above and beyond at all times and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. On behalf of Health PEI, I am sorry that this happened.”

Prince Edward Island’s information and privacy commissioner will conduct a review of the Health PEI privacy breach investigation.

Anyone whose information may have been breached has been sent a letter.

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