Review after cleaner 'contacted patient' on Facebook

facebook mock-up The cleaner contacted the patient on Facebook

A full review of security has been carried out by NHS Lothian after a hospital cleaner allegedly used information about a female patient to contact her on Facebook.

The health board said the man did not access to the woman's medical records.

It said the cleaner had got the patient's name from an electronic floor plan at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

The woman visited the accident and emergency department last week for treatment to a hand injury.

The next day she was contacted on the social networking site by the man, who said he had been "checking her out" while she was being treated in hospital and that he had got her name from the computer.

He is also believed to have asked the woman "how's the hand?".

The cleaner has been suspended and police are investigating.

NHS Lothian conducted its own inquiry and found the cleaner did not manage to access any of the woman's confidential records.

Start Quote

I have asked NHS Lothian to ensure that I am made aware of the outcome of their investigation, and any action that requires to be taken as a result of this will be taken”

End Quote Nicola Sturgeon Health Secretary

The health board's chief operating officer Jackie Sansbury said: "He had no access to private medical records and information which is protected by a range of complex security systems.

"We understand that this member of contracted staff only gained the patient's name from an electronic screen for staff showing a floor plan in the treatment area of Accident and Emergency Department, in much the same way as a patient's name would be displayed above their bed in a ward area.

"This in no way excuses behaviour of this kind, however, and security messages have been reinforced to our staff and sub-contracted employees to ensure they comply with our data security guidelines.

"Any member of staff who breaks our rules will face investigation under our disciplinary procedures."

Earlier, Consort, the private company which employs the man, said they were treating the matter very seriously.

Lothian and Borders Police said they had received a complaint and were looking into the matter.

The woman told The Scotsman newspaper: "I didn't know who he was, what he was capable of, or whether he also knew my address and telephone number.

"I didn't know if he was just going to turn up at the house. It's just wrong in so many ways.

"I've got two boys at home - one aged two, the other six months - so I was worried for them too."

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon told BBC Scotland that patient confidentiality was of the "utmost importance".

She said she could not comment on any individual case, but added: "Anybody who goes into a hospital as a patient has a right to assume that their data and information will be treated with respect and in the highest confidence.

"I have asked NHS Lothian to ensure that I am made aware of the outcome of their investigation, and any action that requires to be taken as a result of this will be taken."

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