12/01/2011 09:35 EST | Updated 01/31/2012 05:12 EST

Edmonton Doctor Peeked At Health Records Of Girlfriend's Ex

PA Images
EDMONTON - Alberta's privacy commissioner says a doctor in a Covenant Health hospital emergency room peeked at electronic health records of his girlfriend nurse's ex-husband and people close to him.

After the nurse's lawyer asked the ex-husband during divorce proceedings about a personal medical issue, the man asked for a log of those who had accessed his records.

They found 12 doctors' names, none of which sounded familiar to the ex-husband.

Further investigation revealed the nurse's new boyfriend, a doctor, had used other people's computer accounts which had been open in the busy ER to check out the records.

The doctor says the nurse was not aware of him doing it, adding it was not uncommon for computers to be left logged on by a number of busy physicians.

Privacy Commissioner Frank Work rapped the knuckles of Covenant Health, a Catholic health-care organization that operates several facilities in the province.

Work said Covenant must make sure people don't leave their computers logged on when they are not at them.

Covenant has agreed to set up a regular training program and develop a plan to implement technical controls to prevent this kind of misuse of its systems.

“This was a challenging investigation," said Work. "We weren’t able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspected physician was misusing Netcare because the abuse took place in a busy emergency department where computer accounts were commonly shared.

"When Covenant Health and other custodians implement our recommendations, it will be easier for us to demonstrate that a particular individual is responsible for misuse of health information systems and hold them personally accountable.”

(The Canadian Press, CHED)