Privacy Breaches

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Health Minister Leo Varadkar speaking in the Dáil in February

Catherine Reilly, in the Medical Independent, writes:

“Serious breaches of patient confidentiality have emerged in the process through which terminations of pregnancy are notified to the Minister for Health under abortion legislation, the Medical Independent (MI) has learned.”

“Some notification forms were not completed in compliance with the legislation, “with missing or incorrect information being supplied, and including serious breaches of patient confidentiality,” the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan informed the HSE Director General Mr Tony O’Brien in September 2014.”

“Under the legally-required notifications process, only Parts B (Information Relating to the Medical Procedure) and C (Information Relating to the Person Keeping Record) should be sent to the Minister for Health. Part A (Patient Details), which provides for the full name of the patient, their usual place of residence and date of birth, must be retained by the hospital.

“MI asked the Department of Health and the HSE in how many instances Part A (Patient Details) was sent to the Minister and how many of these instances involved disclosure of the woman’s name. Neither would comment on these questions.”

Serious privacy breaches uncovered following pregnancy terminations (Catherine Reilly, Medical Independent)

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