Trust loses disc holding 42,000 records

29 August 2014

Trust loses disc holding 42,000 records

East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust has admitted to losing a disc containing the confidential information of 42,000 patients.

The data cartridge "has gone missing" from its divisional headquarters in Nottingham and contains  “just under 42,000 electronic copies of scanned handwritten patient report forms” from September 2012 to November 2012.

East Midlands’ chief executive Sue Noyes said in a statement that the trust takes its responsibility for security and confidentiality “of the information we record and store very seriously” and that the incident has been reported to the Information Commissioner and local police.

“The cartridge is small and there is a possibility that it is still on our premises; we are conducting a thorough search of the building,” said Noyes.

“We are certain the data can only be read via specific hardware which we have in our premises, and which is no longer in production i.e. it is obsolete. Therefore it is unlikely that the information stored on the missing cartridge can be viewed by anyone outside of the organisation.

 “It is extremely unfortunate that this incident has occurred, particularly as during this financial year East Midlands Ambulance Service is replacing the current computerised storage system to strengthen security arrangements.”

Patient medical records are not only confidential but contain vital information for prompt diagnosis, treatment and in understanding the full picture of the health status of a patient. Without the information patient healthcare rights inevitably can suffer and has dealt with cases and enquiries where patient records have similarly been lost or misplaced and where treatment options were compromised as a result.

The Northampton Chronicle reports that the missing cartridge was lost “some time between the data being downloaded and put in the safe, which is likely to have been at the end of 2013.”

Launching an investigation to uncover exactly what happened and to avoid any chance of it ever happening again, it has already taken a “number of actions to strengthen the data retrieval process”, including reinforcing the responsibility staff have to protect patient data.

Noyes said that people who received an ambulance response during September 2012 to November 2012 and who had their details recorded in handwriting on a patient report form can contact the trust if they have any concerns.

“We have taken a proactive approach to report this because we are an open and transparent service and we know it is our duty to inform people when such an incident occurs.”

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