Former Alberta Health Services employee fined $3,000 for breaching client files

A former Alberta Health Services employee who worked at the Athabasca Healthcare Centre has been fined $3,000 for accessing health records without authorization.

Unauthorized access was 'out of curiosity,' says Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner

Forcing changes to doctors' fee codes during a pandemic is unethical, potentially dangerous, and an avoidable managerial error by Alberta Health Services. (David Bajer/CBC)

A former Alberta Health Services employee has been fined $3,000 for accessing health records without authorization.

The former employee pleaded guilty March 27 in Athabasca provincial court to contravening the Health Information Act.

In 2015, AHS discovered 279 alleged instances of unauthorized access to electronic health record systems by a female registration and staffing clerk at the Athabasca Healthcare Centre.

AHS reported the breach to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

The OIPC also received 10 complaints from individuals affected by the breach after they had been notified by AHS.

An investigation by OIPC focused on 28 of the alleged breaches, and it was found that many of the individuals affected were co-workers, relatives, friends and others known to the employee.

Many, if not all" of the instances of unauthorized access were done "out of curiosity" by the employee, a news release from OIPC said.

The OIPC referred its findings to Alberta Justice, and charges were laid in January 2017.

The employee resigned from her position during the investigation.