Sat, Aug 06, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Patient’s details get ‘recycled’ at city hospital

THE THOUGHT COUNTS:The hospital wanted to do good by recycling paper, but confidential patient information landed on the back of one memo page

Staff Writer, with CNA

A hospital in Taipei disclosed confidential medical records by recycling a paper printout of a patient’s details, it was discovered on Thursday.

The Wan Fang Hospital disclosed the medical history of a 60-year-old eye patient on the back of a memo sheet that was handed out at the hospital’s information desk by a voluntary worker.

The memo sheet was given to a visitor who approached the desk for information, only to find that another man’s medical record, including name, gender, weight, the department he visited, diagnostic records and his National Health Insurance treatment procedural number were printed on the back of the page.

Kao Wei-chun (高偉君), a Taipei City Department of Health director in charge of medical affairs, described the incident as “simply too much.”

Kao said the department would summon Wan Fang Hospital’s management to demand a full explanation.

If it was found that the hospital violated Article 72 of the Medical Care Act (醫療法), which is supposed to ensure patient confidentiality, the hospital could be fined between NT$50,000 and NT$250,000, Kao said.

Chen Chun-hsien (陳俊賢), a deputy superintendent of the hospital, said that in order to save paper and to raise environmental protection awareness, the hospital collected disposed paper and cut it into smaller sheets to be used as memos.

Chen attributed the incident to human error. He said medical records were normally destroyed but, in this case, the record was put into a stack of paper to be reused.

“So far, we’ve found only one sheet of such paper,” he said. “The case will be probed and anyone found to have been negligent will be dealt with.”

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