Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Ryder privacy: An 'unacceptable' breach

Jesse Ryder. Photo / File / Paul Taylor
Jesse Ryder. Photo / File / Paul Taylor

Hospital staff from three district health boards are facing disciplinary action for inappropriately accessing cricketer Jesse Ryder's medical records while he was a patient at Christchurch Hospital earlier this year.

Four staff members were working at Canterbury DHB, one at South Canterbury DHB and two at West Coast DHB.

Ryder was admitted to the hospital in March after he was attacked outside a Christchurch bar.

He suffered a head injury and spent two days in an induced coma.

CDHB chief executive David Meates said three staff members at his DHB were facing disciplinary action.

One staff member working at the hospital at the time had been seconded from another DHB and a separate process had been undertaken relating to that employee.

The staff members at West Coast and South Canterbury were being dealt with by management and the human resources department.

Mr Meates said it was extremely disappointing that the behaviour of some staff was found wanting.

"This incident is unacceptable and we have apologised unreservedly to Mr Ryder. It is, however, reassuring that our system of checks and balances has worked in bringing this to our attention.'' Mr Meates said.

"I want to reassure the public that patient confidentiality is paramount to CDHB. Patients should rightly expect their health information will be accessed only by staff involved in their care and treatment, or as part of a quality review process.''

An investigation into the privacy breaches involved an audit of all electronic patient information systems and was undertaken after Mr Ryder's hospital stay.

Any breach of patient confidentiality was taken very seriously, Mr Meates said.

Ryder has been given a copy of the report findings and is satisfied with action CDHB has taken, he said.

"From a systems perspective, we are able to ensure access to patient information is traceable. Every time a record is accessed an electronic `footprint' is left on a patient's file,'' Mr Meates said.

"That was how we were alerted to the inappropriate access to Mr Ryder's electronic clinical information. It's positive that the process works, but a huge disappointment that it had to.''

It was found that the four CDHB staff who breached Mr Ryder's privacy by looking at his electronic files did not pass on any of the information they viewed, Mr Meates said.

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Investigation findings:

* 85 CDHB staff members accessed Ryder's file:

- 66 were deemed to have clear legitimate access with no further action required

- 17 did not have obvious reasons for access and an explanation was required

- Two staff were identified as having accessed records via another staff member's log-on

* In total, 19 people were interviewed, with the following outcomes:

- 15 were found to have legitimate reasons to access the file

- Four did not

* One breach of privacy by a South Canterbury DHB staff member was identified and has been managed by SCDHB; One breach of privacy by two West Coast DHB staff members was identified and these have been managed by WCDHB

- APNZ

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