The privacy violation occurred in August when a person did an unapproved job shadow at Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow. (CBC)

The Pictou County Health Authority is apologizing to dozens of people whose health records may have been viewed by an unauthorized health care professional.

The privacy violation occurred in August when a person, who is not a Pictou County Health Authority employee, job shadowed another employee without approval at Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow.

The health authority said 39 inpatient electronic health records were accessed during the job shadowing on Aug. 24 and there's no way to know which ones were actually viewed inappropriately.

"I regret that this confidentiality violation has occurred and I apologize to those people whose private information was viewed," said Pat Lee, the CEO of the Pictou County Health Authority, in a statement.

"Our internal review has confirmed that the information was only observed. There was no change in clinical information and this unauthorized viewing did not impact patient care."

The information contained on electronic health records includes lab and diagnostic imaging results such as blood work and X-rays, prescribed medications and demographic information such as names and addresses. It does not include progress notes or nursing staff notes.

The Pictou County Health Authority said the unauthorized health care professional confirmed no copies or notes of the personal information was made, no information was shared with anyone and the person doesn't remember any of the information viewed, including names.

Lee said the Pictou County Health Authority was notified of the violation in September and began an internal review. The patient files that were accessed were identified last month.

People who may have been affected by the privacy violation will receive a letter explaining the situation.

The Pictou County Health Authority said the incident was reported to the Department of Health and Wellness as well as the licensing bodies responsible for the workers.

The employee who conducted the unauthorized job shadow was disciplined, but the health authority did not provide any further details.

"We will be reminding all our staff of their obligations under the provincial privacy legislation and our internal policies," said Lee.

"We will continue to be vigilant in monitoring and securing patients' personal information."