Transgender person's medical records faxed to school

A transgender person who had sensitive health information faxed to a school is one of the latest privacy breaches identified by Saskatchewan privacy commissioner Gary Dickson.

Saskatchewan privacy commission slams lack of progress protecting sensitive files

A transgender person who had sensitive health information faxed to the wrong place — a school — is one of the latest privacy breaches identified by Saskatchewan privacy commissioner Gary Dickson.

In a major report released Thursday, Dickson says the problem of sensitive health information being faxed to the wrong people is not going away.

Roughly 1,000 people had their medical information faxed to the wrong place. The breach involved 10 different health trustees.

One of the cases concerned multiple health records wrongly faxed to a Saskatchewan school.

A June 6, 2013 fax sent to the school from a doctor at Saskatoon's Royal University Hospital "contained particularly sensitive personal health information as it detailed hormone therapy of a transgendered individual," Dickson's report said.

Dickson said his latest look at the problem follows his 2010 report which identified widespread problems with faxing medical records.

Back then, health officials told him the problem stemmed from individual fax machines that had the wrong numbers loaded. There were assurances given that as the province moved more to electronic health records, the problems would go away.

However, that isn't what happened at all, Dickson said.

The electronic records systems themselves contain features which lend themselves to wrong faxes, he said. The programs sometimes "suggest" a fax number that's incorrect.

Among the recommendations Dickson makes is for all health trustees to disable "auto-suggest" features within their electronic systems if such a technical solution is possible. 

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