British Columbia

Former Island Health nurse suspended over privacy breach

B.C.'s college of registered nurses has handed a 30-day suspension to a nurse who accessed the private medical records of 74 Vancouver Island Health Authority patients without permission. VIHA fired Jennifer Goodman after the breach came to light.

Jennifer Goodman was fired over unauthorized access to medical records of 74 individuals

B.C.'s college of registered nurses handed a 30-day suspension to a nurse who breached the records of 74 Island Health patient records. (Getty Images)

B.C.'s college of registered nurses has handed a 30-day suspension to a nurse who accessed the private medical records of 74 Vancouver Island Health Authority patients without permission.

The health authority fired Jennifer Goodman after the breach came to light. Although the incidents occurred during 2013 and 2014, the nurse's college only settled on its discipline last month.

Test results, age, birthdates

According to a statement posted on the college's website, Goodman had no legitimate relationship with the dozens of people whose records she breached.

"Ms. Goodman explained that in many but not all cases, she accessed the information to obtain test results for herself and family, to obtain the age and birthdates of co-workers, and to determine where in the hospital individuals she wished to visit were," the statement reads. 

"She cooperated with the investigation and expressed remorse."

String of privacy breaches

The incident is the latest in a string of privacy breaches which have come to light at Island Health.

In the summer of 2016, the health authority was forced to make two public apologies.

The first came after a routine audit uncovered the breach of 198 records of patients from across Vancouver Island. Two Victoria-based healthcare workers were investigated in relation to that incident.

Just three weeks later, the health authority revealed that another employee had accessed the records of 34 patients without permission.

Two years before those incidents, two other VIHA employees were caught looking at 112 electronic health records.

30-day suspension

The health authority declined to comment about Goodman directly, but said all new employees have to sign a confidentiality agreement. They also have to undergo an annual refreshment course.

"Our employees are fully aware of what constitutes legitimate access to patient information; that is, only information that is necessary and required for that person to provide service and care to patients to fulfil his or her authorized role," the health authority said. 

"When a privacy breach occurs, we conduct a thorough investigation, which includes taking steps to remediate risk and prevent the situation from reoccurring, up to and including termination of an employee."

The discipline was reached by consent. In addition to the 30-day suspension, Goodman has also agreed to complete a consultation on regulatory practice.

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