Correct procedures were not followed when researchers accessed the personal health information of thousands of British Columbians, but the likelihood of inappropriate use of the information is low, B.C. Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said Monday.
She said a letter will be sent to about 38,000 people telling them that protocols to ensure their personal health information was kept confidential were not followed.
Information on five million British Columbians was contained in databases that were not properly handled, said MacDiarmid. In the majority of instances, no names or other identity details were attached to the information.
But in one instance, personal health numbers, gender, dates of birth and postal codes of about 38,000 people were improperly shared, she said.
MacDiarmid released the information Monday as she updated reporters about her ministry’s investigation into privacy breaches involving government employees and university researchers. The ministry has fired seven people.
She said the investigation has concluded that there is minimal, if any, risk of inappropriate use of personal information.
“I want to be very clear we have not found any evidence that any of this data has been used for anything but health research,” MacDiarmid said.
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