Privacy breach confirmed in DND medical files
An official with the federal Privacy Commissioner's Office has confirmed there was an inadvertent privacy breach in the medical files of several members of the Canadian Forces.
Privacy commission spokeswoman Anne-Marie Hayden said she couldn't discuss details of the case, but confirmed there was a violation involving a 30-year veteran of the navy who now lives in Nova Scotia.
Wayne Finn, who served as a bosun on a variety of supply ships during his decades in the Forces, had previously said he found nearly 30 other service members' social insurance numbers, blood test results, X-ray reports and birthdates mixed in with his military medical file when he collected it at Canadian Forces Base Halifax in 2007.
He says he raised the matter with the privacy commissioner more than a year ago but received no indication from the commissioner's office that they were pursuing the complaint.
The 49-year-old Finn said he still has information belonging to about 20 people in his file, even after returning the files of eight others to the Halifax base, where he served.
"It's just ridiculous that all this information is misfiled, that I have all these guys' information — I shouldn't have it," he said earlier this month.
A Defence Department spokeswoman confirmed there was a breach, and said the department is reviewing the files of people named in Finn's records to see whether there were other privacy violations.
After Finn's story appeared in the media in mid-December, Deputy Surgeon General Col. Jean-Robert Bernier circulated an email to military health staff on the importance of protecting personal health information.
Finn was medically released from the Forces in 2007 because of chronic health problems, including kidney stones and celiac disease. He applied to have his medical file sent to his home in Nova Scotia. He collected his extensive file at the Halifax base a month before he was released, but did not open it immediately.
When he did, he said he found the other service members' files mixed in with his own.
The privacy breach comes a month after Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn issued an apology to Sean Bruyea, a former intelligence officer whose medical information was shared widely in the department in an apparent effort to discredit his campaign for better treatment of wounded veterans.
Bruyea sued the federal government for $400,000 in September; the case was quickly settled.