We are often contacted by individuals whose confidential medical data has been breached. Such data breaches are not widely reported in the media because their impact is not widespread, but for the individuals concerned the data breach can be extremely unsettling.

Medical data is extremely sensitive – and might include details of conditions you would prefer not to reveal to another person, such as mental health issues or sexually transmitted infections for example. This is why a data breach of this sort is particularly serious and compensation awarded can be significant.

Some examples of Medical Data Breach

Below are a series of examples of cases where a persons medical data has been breached:

  • When test results are disclosed to another patient by mistake. This may happen if your contact details have been incorrectly entered by your GP practice into their database or if you have moved address and your GP has not updated your details.
  • When copies of medical records have been left unattended and have been lost or stolen. Sometimes the staff trusted to handle your personal data are not adequately trained in data protection and this leads to careless mistakes where personal data is lost. This can be very distressing because medical data, by its very nature, is private information that should not be shared with others.
  • When medical data is accessed by an unauthorised member of staff. Given the size of the healthcare industry, it is not unusual to know somebody who works within the field. We have assisted in several cases where personal medical data has been accessed by a member of staff who has, without authorisation, gone on to share that private information with others.
  • When employers inadvertently disclose an employee’s private medical data. Employers are often required to keep a record of employees’ medical conditions or disabilities. Unfortunately these records may be accidentally disclosed to other colleagues which can be embarrassing and distressing for the individual concerned.

These are just a few examples of how a medical data breach may happen. In our experience this type of data breach is often caused by human error and poor data management processes.

What should I do if my medical data has been breached?

You can read more about medical data breaches here, or get in touch with our team if you believe that you have suffered a medical data breach. You will not be required to contact the organisation who breached your data, this will be fully handled by your acting solicitor.