Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Health Senator Marc Mac Sharry has expressed serious concern about the mishandling of patient records in the Western region, after a third set of medical records were found dumped today.
The Sligo-based Senator was commenting following confirmation that the records of patients treated at Sligo General Hospital were found dumped at a bog in Abbeyknockmoy in Co Galway.
Senator Mac Sharry said: “It is extremely disturbing that in the space of just two weeks, three sets of patient records from three different hospitals under the remit of the HSE West have been found inappropriately dumped in public spaces where anyone can find them.
“Earlier this month the records of patients who were treated at the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar were discarded and subsequently found in a bin outside Roscommon Hospital. Last week there was a similar disturbing situation in Ballina, Co Mayo, where confidential patient records were dumped in a litter bin in the town. Now we have learned that records from Sligo General Hospital were also dumped entirely inappropriately in Abbeyknockmoy.
“These incidents have caused serious distress to patients and families at a number of hospitals in the West. The HSE West must provide assurances that action is being taken to stop the mishandling of patient records. Patients must have confidence that their private medical records will be handled in a sensitive and appropriate way by the authorities so there is no risk that confidential information will end up in the wrong hands.
“Fianna Fáil has called on the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to speed up the introduction of National Standards for Health Information Governance in order to protect patient records. HIQA is currently preparing standards that will cover privacy and confidentiality; information governance management; data quality; secondary use assurance; and security. Given the number of breaches that have occurred in recent weeks, it is time for the HSE, HIQA and the Minister for Health Dr. James Reilly to make this a priority.”