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Woman posted wrong patient's medical records

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The West Coast DHB has apologised after two pages of a woman's medical file were sent to the wrong patient. Photo / Thinkstock
The West Coast DHB has apologised after two pages of a woman's medical file were sent to the wrong patient. Photo / Thinkstock

The West Coast District Health Board has apologised after it posted two pages of a woman's private medical records to the wrong person.

The papers were mistakenly sent to Ashburton woman Jen Branje, who was living in Westport when she had surgery at Grey Base Hospital last year.

She lodged an ACC claim, and asked the hospital to post her records to back up her complaint.

They arrived in the mail, but were accompanied by two additional pages belonging to a different Westport woman with a completely different name and NHI patient number.

"I could understand it if they hit the wrong computer button," she told the Greymouth Star today.

However, the information she received was in paper copy.

Ms Branje started trying to contact the other woman, and also phoned the Privacy Commissioner, who told her the files should be immediately returned to the hospital, their contents must not be disclosed and she must not contact the other woman.

She was told it was up to Greymouth Hospital, not her, to disclose the breach.

Unfazed by that, Ms Branje instead made renewed efforts to find the Westport woman, as she felt she had a right to know her privacy had been breached.

Ms Branje said she was concerned the hospital slip-up could be covered up if it relied on the 'victim'; who may not even know what had happened; to complain.

West Coast DHB health programme director Michael Frampton said it appeared that two pages containing information about another patient had been "mis-filed" into Mrs Branje's hard-copy file.

"Yesterday morning a representative from the West Coast DHB rang the patient, whose records were incorrectly sent, informed her of the breach and apologised on behalf of the DHB. We also apologise to Ms Branje for any inconvenience this has caused her."

Privacy Commissioner spokeswoman Annabel Fordham said in this instance, the right agency to notify the affected woman was the DHB.

"We strongly encourage people who receive information in error to return it to the proper agency, or as an alternative, to pass it to the Privacy Commissioner."

Mr Frampton said no staff member had been disciplined, and all those concerned had contributed to the review of procedures.

- The Greymouth Star

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