Privacy is a tricky area. Recently there have been a number of reports of stolen laptops containing identifiable patient data. The issues actually have nothing to do with technology, but are related to human behavior and lack of diligence in terms of protecting the data.
Unencrypted laptops containing 31,000 patient records have been lost by two NHS trusts. A laptop containing 11,000 patient records was stolen from a GP's home in Wolverhampton. And St George's Hospital in London has admitted that six laptops were stolen from its filing cabinets at the start of the month, containing the records of 20,000 patients. Both data breaches break Department of Health policy that states NHS mobile devices must be protected by encryption. Neither trust has offered an explanation as to why the data was unencrypted. The breaches follow news this week that a laptop was stolen from community secretary Hazel Blears' office. Last week, the government lost two sensitive paper files on terrorists. The thefts of patient records also follow comments by industry analysts that the NHS should urgently reconsider the UK$12.7 billion digital records system, after Fujitsu pulled out of the program over local trust demands. Some observers suggested patients should instead carry their own smartcards with their data Link: UK health agency loses 31,000 patients records.
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