Historic patient information published

4 August 2018

SA Health has taken immediate action to have historic confidential test result details, which had been published in error, removed from two document-sharing websites.

Women’s and Children’s Executive Director of Corporate Services, Phil Robinson, said there was no suggestion that any SA Health patient records or information system had been breached.

“The patient information was included in an academic presentation on childhood infections that was posted to the WCH website in 2005,” Mr Robinson said.

“It contained embedded data with the names, date of birth and test results for around 7,200 pathology tests taken between 1996 and 2005.

“Because the author did not remove the source data in the presentation it was able to be accessed online.

“The test results related to patients who were treated at the WCH for respiratory infection, gastro or whooping cough, all of which are childhood infections.”

The presentation was removed from the WCH website in 2016, but had been uploaded with the embedded information to the external document sharing website and its affiliate site, without authorisation. The presentation has now been removed. A subsequent search revealed the presentation was also uploaded to four other filesharing sites, but none of these contained the embedded data.

“Our IT security team advise that the risk of anyone discovering the embedded information within the presentation is extremely low,” Mr Robinson said.

“Once we were alerted to the error late Wednesday afternoon, we identified the nature of the information and contacted the website administrators who removed the presentation containing the data by Thursday afternoon.

“However, because the data was stored in a cache, it wasn’t completely removed from the internet until late last night.

“We have no evidence to suggest that any of the information has been used inappropriately.”

“I would like to apologise to those affected by this data error, and if anyone has any concerns or would like more information, I invite them to contact the Women’s and Children’s information line on (08) 8155 5654.”

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