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Instructor no longer with Algonquin after CHEO privacy breach

A part-time instructor is no longer working at the college after the data of 283 CHEO patients was given to a class of Algonquin students in February.

The former instructor, who is also a CHEO employee, allegedly disclosed the patients’ information in early February by handing out operating room schedules to their class of 32 students, the Ottawa Citizen reported in a story on March 18.

The schedules reportedly contained patients’ names, genders, birthdates, allergies, CHEO medical registration numbers, their upcoming surgical procedure and other relevant information.

Algonquin informed CHEO of the breach on Feb. 17. Algonquin informed CHEO of the breach on Feb. 17. CHEO then reported the incident to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.

“This was treated as a self-reported complaint and an investigation was commenced,” said a March 22 statement to the Times from the IPC’s office. “Since then, the IPC has been contacted by three individuals affected by the breach.”

It’s a serious issue, a lawyer contacted by the Times agreed.

“You don’t have to have a PhD in law to know this (information) is privileged,” said Michel Drapeau, an Ottawa lawyer who specializes in privacy law, said in an interview with the Times.

Drapeau said there isn’t much that can be done now that the information was leaked, other than to apologize, which CHEO has done.

“You can make amends, you can apologize,” he said. “Make sure it never happens again.”

CHEO told the Citizen that their privacy training will be updated to prevent an incident like this from happening again.

Although privacy breaches happen, Drapeau said people can’t lose confidence in their privacy at hospitals.

“That would be reprehensible,” he said. “I think our privacy starts at the hospital doors.”

Algonquin said the instructor is no longer employed at the college. CHEO did not respond to a request for comment from the Algonquin Times.

“We have nothing to add at this time,” wrote Algonquin internal communications officer Janet Hunter in an email sent March 20.

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