Manitoba health-care worker faces 3 charges of accessing, disclosing personal health information

An investigation by Manitoba's ombudsman has resulted in three charges against an employee of a health-care facility who allegedly viewed and shared a man's personal health information.

Privacy officer in health-care facility accused of using access to view, disclose information: ombudsman

An employee of a health-care facility in Manitoba could be fined to $150,000 for accessing and distributing personal health information. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images)

An employee of a health-care facility is facing three charges after she allegedly viewed a man's personal health information and shared it, the Manitoba Ombudsman says.

The charges were laid under the Personal Health Information Act, or PHIA, following an investigation, the ombudsman's office said in a Wednesday news release.

The ombudsman did not identify the employee or her employer, but said she was a privacy officer in a health-care facility. She is accused of using her access to view and disclose private health information for purposes unrelated to her work.

The ombudsman's office said it initially received a report about the allegation from a trustee who said one of its employees had looked at the information.

Later, the man whose health information was viewed also reported the alleged breach of privacy.

Following the investigation, the ombudsman laid the charges against the woman for deliberately accessing and disclosing another person's health information without authority under PHIA.

These charges are rare, the ombudsman's office says.

The PHIA legislation was amended in 2013 following a previous incident to make it an offence for an employee to wilfully use, gain access to or attempt to gain access to another person's personal health information, contrary to the act.

This is the second time the ombudsman has laid charges under that provision since 2013, Wednesday's news release said.

"Personal health information is considered by many to be the most sensitive type of information about individuals," ombudsman Jill Perron said in the release. Manitobans trust health-care facilities to respect their privacy, she said.

"Abusing that trust by intentionally violating someone's privacy is wrong and has serious consequences."

The maximum penalty for each offence is $50,000.

The health-care worker's court date hasn't yet been set. The Manitoba Ombudsman won't release further details about the case until the court case concludes.