It is reported that 5,000 radiology images taken at University Hospitals Dorset were accidentally deleted. This occurred during their process of archiving on or around July/August this year. The lost data includes:

  • 214 clinical mammograms ( X-Rays to test for breast cancer)
  • test or duplicate images
  • some scans from different hospitals.

How did the incident occur?

The radiology images were taken during a period in 2019 and were deleted during the hospital’s process of archiving the documents. The images were deleted from the system and the hospital confirmed that the data was not hacked so the patient’s information was not disclosed to unauthorised third parties.

The hospital also confirmed that due to the images being taken in 2019, there is no risk for most of the patients’ treatment as follow up tests/subsequent scans had been taken, and that data was not deleted.

“At University Hospitals Dorset, our older radiology images, including mammograms, are regularly archived into long term storage.

“Unfortunately, in a very rare event, a number of images from a brief period in 2019 were accidentally deleted by the system during this moving process.

What happened next?

“Measures have since been put in place to ensure this does not happen again. We have a record of appointments and the outcomes of the reports from the deleted images from this time. Personal information from our patients remains secure and images from prior to and after this period in 2019 are not affected.

“University Hospitals Dorset has a culture of openness and honesty and we will be contacting patients who have been identified as being affected by their images being deleted to update them and to reassure them that adverse implications for them are very low.”

Did the hospital inform the ICO?

NHS England and NHS Improvement has been informed.

Because there was no exposure of personal identifiable data or risk to any individuals affected, the incident has not been reported to the Information Commissioners Office.

A representative for NHS England South West commented “We are working with University Hospitals Dorset to address the event where a series of images were accidently deleted.

“Liaising with clinical colleagues at the Trust, we have identified those patients affected and are assured that the clinical risk is extremely low, given that we know the results from every scan even where the image no longer exists. We are also ensuring robust measures are put in place to ensure this does not happen again.”

Does data loss constitute a data breach?

Although in these particular circumstances the individuals affected are not likely to suffer any detriment as a result of the data loss, this still constitutes a breach of personal data.

If your data has been lost/deleted/misplaced by an organisation and you have suffered detriment/distress as a result of this, you might be entitled to compensation. Please get in touch and one of our specialist solicitors at DRM Legal who will be able to advise if you have a valid data breach claim.