Nfld. & Labrador

Privacy breach lawsuit launched against Western Health

A Corner Brook woman is suing Western Health for breaching her private health information, and is inviting others to join a class-action lawsuit.

A Corner Brook woman is suing the Western Health Regional Health Authority for breaching her private health information, and is inviting others who have experienced a similar breach to join her in a class-action lawsuit.

Barbara Hynes received a letter from Western Health last week stating she was a victim of a privacy breach.

The letter states that Hynes' information was viewed without valid reason by a Western Health employee.

Hynes' lawyer, Bob Buckingham, said in a statement that the individual who accessed her personal health information may have seen "information about visits to Western Health facilities, including the reason for the visits and various diagnostic and surgical procedures she may have undergone during those visits."

"I was distraught, upset and devastated to learn my very private and confidential medical records and personal health information had been accessed by an unauthorized person," Hynes said in a release issued by Buckingham's office.

Western Health disclosed earlier this month that a single employee had accessed the confidential medical records of 1,043 patients.

The lawsuit filed is a class-action lawsuit, meaning there is room for other victims to come forward to jointly sue the health authority for wrongdoing.

"I have retained Mr. Buckingham to commence a class-action lawsuit to get answers to my many questions and to help ensure such breaches do not occur in Western Health again, or for that matter anywhere else in the province," said Hynes.

"Initially I was very mad and angry at the intrusion on my privacy," she said.

"Now I am worried and distraught, wondering why this information was accessed, if it was copied, where it has gone and whether I should have concerns about my own personal circumstances or identify theft.

"The fact [that] my intimate, medical personal health information was accessed and my privacy breached is highly offensive and distressing."

Earlier this week, Corner Brook lawyer Scott Burden said he was considering a possible suit against Western Health over the same privacy breach.

Hynes' privacy breach was detailed in this letter from Western Health: