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7,000 patients of AHS were warned that their health information might be compromised in an email hack


Alberta Health Services (AHS) is notifying around 7,000 patients about their health information that might have been compromised after a physician's personal Gmail account has been hacked. The physician working in Calgary's Richmond Road Diagnostic Centre improperly used the private email account for transmitting the health information, said AHS in a release on August 22, 2019.


"This physician's private, personal Gmail account was hacked by a cyber criminal, placing Alberta Health Service patient information at risk. This breach is completely unacceptable and should not have happened," said Ted Braun, Medical Director and Vice President for southern Alberta.


Under AHS policy, the doctors as well as the staffs must use the AHS secure email while communicating the personally identifiable health information. In case the recipient doesn't have the AHS account, then while communicating the information must be encrypted.


Dr. Francois Belanger, the chief medical officer, said that "unfortunately, these policies were not followed in this instance, which underscores the need for AHS to do further work to educate physicians and staff about this vitally important practice".


Only the patients of this particular physician have been affected. The AHS said that they are working with physician's office to inform all the affected patients by notifying about this possible privacy breach and also are providing one staffed telephone line for providing information to anybody requesting more information or assistance. In the letters, patients will receive details about what exactly has happened and now what they should do.


The agency says that, at present, there is no proof to suggest that the affected patients' information were accessed by hacker.


AHS has informed the OIPC (Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner) about this incident. In addition, AHS has also been working with the police in order to determine who has hacked the physician's email account and see whether they can recover some information.


Braun has added that the AHS is fully cooperating in investigation, and also apologizes for whatever concerns this incident has created.


"We also know that this physician in question is extremely remorseful that this breach has occurred, and he's cooperating completely with us to ensure this does not happen again," said Braun.


» SPAMfighter News - 9/4/2019

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