04/17/2013 10:10 EDT | Updated 06/17/2013 05:12 EDT

Nova Scotia's largest health district confident in guarding health records

HALIFAX - There were a million threats to hospital information systems at Nova Scotia's largest health district in the last year, although a top bureaucrat says only a fraction were deemed serious.

Chris Power, president of the Capital District Health Authority, said Wednesday that none of those threats led to any data loss.

The health authority said the vast majority of those computer threats involved malware and spyware attacks that were blocked.

"Only 20 of them were serious enough for people to investigate a little bit further, but none of them breached our systems," Power said following an appearance before the legislature's public accounts committee.

Power said the results left health officials confident in the district's ability to secure its records, although she said improvements are needed.

In his fall report, provincial auditor general Jacques Lapointe said system weaknesses increased the risk of inappropriate access by hospital employees and contract staff.

Power said the authority was working to reduce that potential risk to records.

Officials said there were seven investigations of internal breaches of health records last year in a district that deals with about one million patients a year.

Power wouldn't talk about specific cases, but said the investigations resulted in a range of disciplinary actions, from reprimands to workers having to leave their employment with the district.

Meanwhile, she said the biggest challenge for the district's information technology systems was to move to an integrated electronic records system with the province's doctors, something that would take tens of millions of dollars.

Power said a plan is in place, but is proceeding slowly because of funding challenges.

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