Princess Margaret Hospital announces incident of inappropriate disposal of used thermal ribbon containing patient personal identification information

Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The following is issued on behalf of the Hospital Authority:
     The spokesperson for Princess Margaret Hospital made the following announcement today (October 9) regarding an incident of inappropriate disposal of used thermal ribbon containing patient personal identification information:
     The hospital management was notified by the Orthopaedics and Traumatology Department on October 4 about an incident in which a clerical staff member had not followed the prevailing procedures on handling of confidential waste and disposed of used thermal ribbon as domestic waste when changing the thermal ribbon in the ward on September 29. The thermal ribbon contained 169 patients' personal data (English and Chinese name, Hong Kong identity card number, age and sex). According to prevailing procedures, the used thermal ribbon for printing patients' examination labels should be disposed of in a designated coloured bag and then collected and disposed of by an appointed confidential waste contractor.
     Upon receiving a report of the incident, the hospital immediately contacted the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, which advised that the waste had been sent to a landfill and could not be retrieved. According to the risk assessment conducted by the hospital, the risk of data leakage to a third party should be extremely low.
     The hospital is very concerned about the incident and has reported it to the Hospital Authority Head Office through the Advance Incidents Reporting System and also to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data.

The hospital would like to express its sincere apology to the patients involved.
     An internal notice has already been issued immediately to all staff to remind them of the proper procedures for disposal of confidential waste. The hospital will also conduct an investigation into the incident to identify necessary improvement measures to prevent recurrence of similar incidents in future. The incident will also be followed up in accordance with prevailing human resources regulations.

Published on: 2017-10-09

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