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Drogheda hospital criticised after confidential patient records found 'strewn on the street'

The files contained personal information about 44 orthopaedic patients at Our Lady of Lourdes.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda
Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda
Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated at 7:45pm

THE HSE AND Data Protection Commission have launched separate investigations after confidential patient records were found “strewn on the street” near a Louth hospital.

The files, containing personal information about 44 orthopaedic patients, were discovered close to an overflowing public bin outside Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda.

A local resident brought the documents to local radio station LMFM after he picked them up while walking through the area on Sunday morning.

The man, Andrew, told LMFM’s Michael Reade Show this morning that he was shocked to find identifying details on the files.

“I saw people’s personal information – who they attended to, when they attended, who the doctor was, when they were [to be] discharged,” he said.

Andrew added: “Those people whose names are on it must be horrified because at the end of the day I would not like my personal data to be put out there for everybody to read.”

Michael Reade, the programme’s presenter, said the papers included medical information on patients suffering from bowel problems, melanoma, slurred speech, dementia and sepsis, among other issues.

Sinn Féin leader and Louth TD Gerry Adams wsa one of several local representatives to criticise the breach of patient confidentiality.

“There is a major fear of of identity theft and fraud for those people whose data has been compromised,” he said, adding that Minister for Health Leo Varadkar must ensure an immediate and thorough investigation of the incident.

Apology

A spokesperson for the HSE told TheJournal.ie that the hospital is undertaking an investigation, adding that it “takes this matter extremely seriously”.

The spokesperson said maintaining patients’ confidentiality is a legal requirement as well as an issue of professionalism.

All patients involved in the breach of confidentiality will be met individually in order to explain the incident and to provide details of the personal information found.
A letter of apology will also be issued to each patient outlining the steps now being taken by the hospital in the management of this serious incident.
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda has facilities in place for the safe disposal of sensitive and confidential information.
Staff are reminded regularly of their responsibility to patient confidentiality at training programmes and at induction programmes for all new staff.
The General Manager is now issuing a memo to all staff following the breach reminding them of their responsibility regarding patient confidentiality.

Read: Mother who says her daughter was injured during ‘muddled’ delivery loses case

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Catherine Healy

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