More than 200 confidential documents — including personal files and decisions about workers' compensation from Western Memorial Regional Hospital — were sent to the wrong fax machine, and ended up in the hands of a private citizen who was never supposed to see them.
Rod Lyver of Corner Brook said his business phone number was only one digit away from a main office fax number at the hospital. He said the faxes started about four or five years ago and didn't stop until six months ago.
"I would receive about 25 or 30 attempts, the phone was just going crazy until I finally accepted the fax, because the computer at Western Health would continue to send the fax until it was received," said Lyver.
He said once the papers started rolling in, he might get three or four faxes of hospital files a day on a variety of confidential topics.
"Purchase orders, personal files, workers compensation decisions about staff, requests for vacation, reasons for denial, confidential information talking about different people who work in the hospital," he said.
Lyver received no personal health records from patients. All of the faxes contained information on employees.
Making it stop
Lyver said he contacted the hospital about the error, but instead of being thanked, he said officials didn't take him seriously.
"They just kind of brushed it off and didn't think it was a big deal. I was like no, this is important, someone has got to deal with it, I really don't know what to tell you and it took quite some time to convince someone that it was important," said Lyver.
After about eight months, he said the faxes stopped, but then started up again. Lyver said he received one file full of a workers confidential information and contacted the hospital again.
"I just started reading off the file and there was dead silence and I just continued reading and he said, 'where are you getting this?'. You sent it to me. And they got upset with me, they were rather upset that I had it."
Returning and shredding
Lyver said at first he returned the faxed documents to the hospital, and later started shredding them.
He said he believes the reason the problem went on so long, was because the hospital couldn't find the fax machine with his number programmed into it.