Haartman hospital in Helsinki has uncovered the theft of hundreds of patientsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ medical records. A temporary secretary at the hospital gained unauthorised access to the electronic records of nearly two hundred patients. According to the Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman the viewing of patientsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ medical records is increasingly common in Finland.
Helsinki man Seppo Saarela received a shocking letter from Haartmanaccident and emergency hospital a week ago.
Ã¢â‚¬ÂA secretary working at the city hospital had opened my case history file and could have seen my patient record,Ã¢â‚¬Â read Saarela from the letter he was sent. Ã¢â‚¬ÂThe departmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s secretary did not have the right to open the case history file.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The secretary is now suspected of data protection crimes. Haatrman hospital employed the worker for four months in the spring of 2010. When the data protection breaches were discovered, the hospital fired the secretary.
Seppo Saarela was distressed to hear that the suspect was a temporary worker.
Ã¢â‚¬ÂIt feels like that any summer intern can get into Haartman hospitalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s database. Unbelievable!Ã¢â‚¬Â
Chief Physician: Motive is a total mystery
Both Haartman hospital and the police have known about the data breach for over a year. The criminal investigation is ongoing.
One week ago the hospital sent a letter of apology to the patients concerned.
Ã¢â‚¬ÂHelsinki health services decided to notify all those whose names we know,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Haartman hospitalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Chief Physician, Jukka Toivonen. Ã¢â‚¬ÂAltogether 188 of these letters have been sent.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬ÂWe have no information about the motive,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Toivonen. Ã¢â‚¬ÂIt could have been just rach curiosity. Police are investigating this too.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Data Protection ombudsman Reijo Aarnio says that snooping on patient records is becoming increasingly common in Finland, and that relatives and neighbours are often the victims.