Dutch hospitals lax on patients’ medical records
Local authorities’ latest study shows that anyone who walks into the hospital can gain easy access to medical records.13 November 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - Most hospitals are rather careless with their patients' medical records, reports newspaper AD.
A joint study by the Health Inspectorate and the Dutch Data Protection Authority argues that the current situation is conducive to serious medical errors and allows unauthorised people to snoop around in medical records with impunity.
The report follows inspection of 20 hospitals, none of which were found to have adequate data security. Entire departments were found to be using the same login name and password. And in many hospitals, computers are left running, and anyone can access the system when staff is absent.
According to the report, hospitals are insufficiently aware of the risks
The report calls for better security: "There must be safeguards for secure health care and patients' privacy. This is an important condition for linking up with the Electronic Patient Dossier (EPD)".
The Health Inspectorate has ordered all hospitals to submit a plan to remedy the situation by 2010, just ahead of the introduction of the EPD.
Chief Inspector Jan Vesseur says he is concerned about how easy it is for unauthorised hospital workers to access digital patients' files.
"We are working on a warning system that raises the alert when a patient's records are suddenly consulted frequently, for instance those of a celebrity".
A similar inspection four years ago produced the same results.
[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder-Hes / Expatica]