Sunday, January 10, 2010

Children's hospital lost data on 1m patients

In a follow up to his excellent story about Temple Street Children's Hospital storing DNA samples of over 1.5 million people without any legal basis, Mark Tighe has a piece in today's Sunday Times revealing that the hospital also lost two servers full of information about patients in 2007:
Two computer servers containing the records of almost 1m patients were stolen from the Children’s University hospital in Temple Street in 2007 and have never been recovered.

The data were far more than that lost on stolen bank laptops in recent years. The theft was investigated by the data protection commissioner (DPC) and the gardai after being reported by the Dublin hospital in February 2007. The organisations had decided that there was no need to inform the public, believing there was little chance of the thief being able to access the data.

Patients’ details, including names, date of birth and reason for admission are thought to have been included.
Interestingly, there's no mention of the servers having been encrypted, making it unclear on what basis it was decided that the data couldn't be accessed.

There's also an update indicating that there has already been some official interest in accessing the DNA records:
In Australia and New Zealand, hospital databases have been accessed by police using DNA in their investigations.

Asked if it had allowed gardai access to the database, Temple Street said it had “one tentative enquiry” by an agency but this was not followed up.

"Our patient confidentiality policy will continue to dictate the response and no access to samples will be granted," a spokeswoman said.

1 comment:

  1. "India to compile 'world's biggest' ID database

    India has launched a huge national identity scheme aimed at cutting fraud and improving access to state benefits.

    Using biometric methods, including an iris scan, the system will log details of India's population of more than one billion people on a central database.

    It was launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi in western India.

    The data will be stored online in what India says will be the biggest such national database in the world."