Hospi­tal net­work check­ing record er­ror

Univer­sity health Net­work con­sists of Princess Mar­garet, toronto Gen­eral, and toronto Western


TORONTO — a clin­i­cal team will in­ves­ti­gate whether the care of any pa­tient at On­tario’s largest hospi­tal net­work was af­fected by er­rors re­ported in its elec­tronic med­i­cal records, says a spokes­woman.

Gil­lian howard said that while the Univer­sity health Net­work is con­duct­ing a re­view of five mil­lion elec­tronic health records gath­ered over the past five years, a clin­i­cal team will also re­view the files of pa­tients di­rectly im­pacted by the pri­vacy breach to en­sure their care was not com­pro­mised.

“i wouldn’t want peo­ple to be un­nec­es­sar­ily con­cerned,” she said. “We are deal­ing with this, we’ve cleaned our in-house data and are go­ing to be work­ing through all of the places out­side. the as­sur­ance that peo­ple should have is that their own (fam­ily doc­tor) would be look­ing at any of th­ese things and would likely pick up any­thing that’s an er­ror. the in­ci­dence is very small com­pared to the num­ber of records.”

the net­work, which con­sists of Princess Mar­garet hospi­tal, toronto Gen­eral hospi­tal, toronto Western hospi­tal and a num­ber of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion sites, said that it has also tem­po­rar­ily dis­con­nected its pa­tient record sys­tem from On­tario’s elec­tronic health records data­base while it investigates the er­ror. howard could not im­me­di­ately say how long the re­view would take or when it would be re­con­nected to the broader sys­tem.

the prob­lem — first re­ported by ctv News — came to light when a pa­tient found re­sults in his file for tests he had not taken. the hospi­tal net­work says er­rors have been found in four pa­tient records where the “iden­ti­fi­able” in­for­ma­tion of an in­di­vid­ual pa­tient went in some­one else’s file.

“a pa­tient no­ticed some­thing in his file ... that couldn’t have been his record,” howard said. “he phoned us and that started the process of check­ing all th­ese things.”

howard said the er­rors were iso­lated to the net­work’s data­base and were not part of On­tario’s elec­tronic health records data­base. the hospi­tal net­work be­lieves it knows what caused the er­rors but wants to in­ves­ti­gate fur­ther be­fore re­leas­ing the in­for­ma­tion, she added.

“We ab­so­lutely will get to the bot­tom of it,” she said.

laura Gal­lant, spokes­woman for health Min­is­ter eric hoskins, said the govern­ment has been in con­tact with the hospi­tal net­work and con­firmed the er­rors were lim­ited to its sys­tem.

“We have not been made aware of any other hospi­tals en­coun­ter­ing any­thing sim­i­lar,” she said in a state­ment.

On­tario’s in­for­ma­tion and Pri­vacy com­mis­sion said thurs­day it had been no­ti­fied of the breach and “will work with the UHN to de­ter­mine the cause of the breach, and to iden­tify cor­rec­tive mea­sures.”


Toronto Gen­eral Hospi­tal is seen in 2014. On­tario’s largest health net­work, which in­cludes Toronto Gen­eral Hospi­tal, will in­ves­ti­gate whether the care of any pa­tient was im­pacted by er­rors re­ported in its elec­tronic med­i­cal records.

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