Data breach is ‘taken seriously’ after patient file was found

A medical file containing personal information and care plan details was found blowing in the wind on the footpath at Harbour Road, Mullingar, last Thursday evening.

A member of the public found the file and quickly gathered it up. She was shocked to find that the it included documents containing the name, address, telephone number, and extensive medical details for a male patient.

The woman, whose name is with the Westmeath Examiner editor, promptly notified the hospital of her find.

“I was walking home from work at about 6.30pm on Thursday evening and had just crossed the road to Presentation Junior School when I saw something blowing on the street. It looked like a hospital file,” the woman told The Westmeath Examiner.

“I grabbed the file before its pages were blown away. I saw it had Mullingar Hospital on it and it had personal details and a care plan for a man who was wheelchair bound.”

The woman said the file was lying on the pavement for anyone to pick up. She rang the hospital and explained the situation. She said the receptionist was shocked and asked her to drop it in to them as soon as possible.

She walked out to the hospital and tried to explain to a member of staff - not the person she had spoken to a short while earlier - but felt the response she received was “flippant” and “snappy” and she was upset by this as she had gone out of her way to act responsibly.

Our reader stressed that having been a patient at the hospital herself in the past she would not like if her file and her details had been strewn on the road as were this man’s. Contacted by The Westmeath Examiner, tthe Ireland East Hospital Group confirmed that a file was delivered to Regional Hospital Mullingar. Upon review it was found that the file was not from the hospital.

They said that the data breach was followed up on promptly by the Regional Hospital, Mullingar. The data controller for the file subject to the data breach was contacted and the file was returned to them for their follow up in line with GDPR legislation.

"We can assure the person that handed in the file that the data breach was taken very seriously and dealt with accordingly," they stated.