SERIOUS concerns about a breach in patient confidentiality have been flagged up after a Worthing Hospital document detailing several patients’ surgical procedures was found lying in the street.
Resident Kevin Bazen said he was shocked to find the internal medical print-out in an unmarked envelope as he walking along Lyndhurst Road, having visited a friend at the hospital.
On opening it, he was alarmed to discover the document detailed the medical and personal details of three female patients who had been due to undergo serious operations at the hospital this month.
Mr Bazen, who works as an IT specialist, explained that having worked with complex data himself, he was particularly aware of how important maintaining levels of confidentiality is.
The 27-year-old, from Worthing, said: “I had just been visiting a friend who was at the hospital and was walking down Lyndhurst Road when I came across the envelope.
“Things like this should not have left the premises of the hospital.
“I just felt it really wasn’t right, especially as this form had all the details of the patients on including their full names, dates of birth and their medical numbers.”
According to Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust guidelines, while doctors and other healthcare professionals are allowed access to personal data to build up an ongoing picture of patients’ care, it regards security of data as a key priority.
Paula Gorvett, Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust director of clinical services for surgery, responded.
She said: “We take patient confidentiality extremely seriously and are contacting the people involved to apologise for their information being compromised in this way, and to reassure them that this was an isolated incident.
“The trust has a very clear policy around the use of printed theatre lists, which should under no circumstances leave the hospital buildings.
“When lists do need to be shared between sites they are always encrypted and transmitted electronically to avoid any risk of loss.
“We are actively investigating how this list came to be removed and will be reviewing how printed lists are monitored and disposed of in future.
“We will also be reminding all staff who come into contact with these types of documents to make absolutely certain they do not remove them inadvertently.”