Thursday 22 February 2018

Patient papers found dumped in 'overflowing bin' on public road - HSE launch investigation

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Picture: Collins
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Picture: Collins Newsdesk Newsdesk

The HSE and Data Protection Office have launched two separate investigations after papers relating to patients being treated at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda were found dumped in an overflowing bin on a public road.

A member of the public made the discovery while out walking near the 'cross lanes', a public road, near the hospital on Sunday morning.

Speaking on LMFM's Michael Reade Show this morning, Andrew told listeners the papers were "strewn all over the road".

"I went for a walk the other morning and I went up by the [Our Lady of] Lourdes Hospital.

"There's a bin up there and the bin was overflowing so there were papers strewn all over the road and on the ground.

"I carried on walking and then I saw another one [a piece of paper] and I picked it up, and without reading it, I put it into my pocket. And I carried on walking until I went down by the river and I sat on one of the seats there, picked the piece of paper out.

"To my shock and horror, I had seen people's personal information

"Like who they attended, when they attended and why they attended and when they were discharged. I was just shocked.

"Really I was horrified to see it," Andrew told the show.

"I'm sure those people whose names are on it must be absolutely horrified. I would not like it for my personal data be put out there for everybody to read."

Andrew, who did not give his surname, went to his local radio station LMFM on Monday and left the files in the premises for broadcaster Michael Reade.

The Michael Reade show claimed the information in the files related to people who have attended the hospital in the last three months. Broadcaster Reade said the patients were orthopaedic patients. Their conditions, diagnoses and updates were laid out in the files alongside their names and dates of birth.

The show's reporter Marie Kierans told listeners she rang the HSE and Data Protection Commissioner's office to report the breach after Andrew brought them to the offices of LMFM yesterday afternoon.

After finishing her shift and leaving for the day, Ms Kierans said a HSE official rang her and demanded she return the files to them immediately yesterday evening.

She returned the files to them at 8am this morning.

The Data Protection Office told the show they are treating the matter seriously and will commence a full investigation.

It's understood some 44 patients were affected by the breach.

In a statement to, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda said all patients involved in the breach of confidentiality will be met individually in order to explain the incident and to provide details of the personal information found.

A letter of apology will also be issued to each patient outlining the steps now being taken by the hospital in the management of this serious incident.

A spokesman for the RCSI group which includes Our Lady of Lourdes  said :”Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda takes this matter extremely seriously and is now undertaking an investigation.  All RCSI Group hospitals, including Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, have policies and procedures to ensure that patients are assured that their medical information is treated in confidence and not shared inappropriately.

He thanked the radio station  LMFM for bringing this matter to its attention and for its co-operation in handing over the data today. The hospital “is committed to providing healthcare services in an environment that maximises safety, quality and accountability and to driving a culture of responsibility amongst all staff.”

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