Health Care Breaches Largely Due to Misdirected Emails, Faxes: Harvey

Health Care Breaches Largely Due to Misdirected Emails, Faxes: Harvey

(Privacy Commissioner Michael Harvey)

A recent gathering between privacy commissioners from across Canada indicated that most breaches in the health care sector are due to issues such as misdirected emails and faxes.

Privacy commissioners from across the country are calling on health care systems to “axe the fax” to help reduce the number of privacy breaches in the health sector.

Provincial Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael Harvey recently hosted his colleagues from across the country to discuss securing trust in digital health care.

The gathering comes nearly a year after the province’s health care system was struck by a major cyberattack.

Harvey says while his investigation into the incident is still underway, his colleagues from across the country discussed ways to improve privacy and security in the health care system.

He says the Information and Privacy Commissioner in Ontario for instance, indicates that half of all privacy breaches in the health care field in that province result from misdirected faxes.

The health sector, says Harvey, for a variety of reasons, has held on to the use of faxes “for far longer than anyone else” and the commissioners agreed that “axing the fax” would cut down on those breaches.

In this province, the greatest number of breaches occur with misdirected emails.

He says many will have had the experience of sending an email but typing in the wrong address and sending it to the wrong person. “Well, that happens a lot,” says Harvey.

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