Nfld. & Labrador

Donna Colbourne fined in Western Health privacy breach

A former employee with Western Health was fined Thursday in a privacy breach at the hospital in Corner Brook.
Former Western Health employee Donna Colbourne was fined $5,000 in a privacy breach of more than 1,000 files in 2012. (CBC)

A former employee with Western Health was fined Thursday in a privacy breach at the hospital in Corner Brook.

Donna Colbourne accessed more than 1,000 patient files at Western Memorial Regional Hospital while working there as an accounting clerk until 2012.

Judge Kymil Howe, appearing by video conference from Stephenville, imposed a $5,000 fine on Colbourne after she obtained personal health information on 75 different occasions.

"The affect of the breach is far reaching by the accused by mindless meddling into personal affairs," said Howe.

"I am very aware of the simple truth: this accused knew better."

The Crown wanted a  $7,500 fine for Colbourne, but Howe settled on the lower fine because Colbourne did not share any of the information with anyone, and it wasn't medical charts or health records, but just names and billing addresses obtained.

Crown attorney Vikas Khaladkar said it wasn't what he was looking for, but he was still satisfied with the verdict.

"I particularly appreciated the thoughtfulness with which she [Judge Howe] addressed the breach of privacy and the impact it can have on people," said Khaladkar.

Colbourne did not appear in court. She was not under arrest or under any probation so it was not necessary for her to appear.

She is the first person to be convicted under the province's personal health information act.