'Are you going to tell your supervisor about this?' Nunavut man claims medical file mix-up

An Arviat man is concerned about how the Nunavut health department handles medical records after he discovered his own medical records were included in his wife's medical file.

Health department says it requires patient consent to investigate

Evano Aggark Sr., centre, says his medical records were mishandled and he's not satisfied with the explanation why. (CBC)

An Arviat man is concerned about how the Nunavut Department of Health handles medical records after he discovered his own medical files were included among his wife's records.

Earlier this month, Evano Aggark Sr. went to the Arviat health centre to get his arm checked. He said a nurse retrieved what should have been his medical information and walked him to an examination room where the nurse discovered she had the wrong files.

Aggark said that after the nurse checked again, she found his records contained in his wife's file.

"Are you going to tell your supervisor about this?" Aggark said he asked the nurse.

He said he was told, "Nope, this always happens, they often put them in the wrong files."

Aggark said he was offered no explanation for why his confidential records would have ended up in another person's files, his wife's or not. He said it was an unacceptable situation, aggravated by being described as normal.

The Department of Health declined the CBC's request for an interview, but did respond by email. A spokesperson for the department stated he could not discuss Aggark's situation specifically, but did acknowledge the situation was unusual.

"Each patient has a personal medical file that is not shared with or within other files ... there is not a chart for a couple," the spokesperson stated.

The department acknowledged patient records should not be misfiled, and that "all complaints are investigated by the Department of Health," but that the onus would be on Aggark to give consent before any investigation could happen.

"Formal investigations require an individual's consent to proceed," the spokesperson said.

The mishandling of Aggark's records may not come as a surprise. Earlier this year, Nunavut's information commissioner described the way Nunavut handles patient medical records as "ripe for privacy breach."

Aggark said he hopes recently elected members of Nunavut's Legislative Assembly will address medical record privacy.

If you have stories you'd like to share, the CBC's Jordan Konek can be reached at jordan.konek@cbc.ca.

With files from Jordan Konek