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The duty of patient confidentiality is a tenet of medical practice, meaning that all doctors must keep patient information private as a matter of professional duty. Unfortunately, data breaches by hospitals undermine this key responsibility, often through simple administrative errors or data handling mistakes.
However minor the initial misstep is, the repercussions can still be severe when patient or employee data is exposed, which is why healthcare organisations must be held accountable for breaches of data protection law. We know the stress and anxiety data breach victims can suffer, which is why we work hard to claim compensation on behalf of those affected. Although a compensation pay-out cannot undo the harm inflicted on victims, it can help them to know that justice has been done.
Data breach compensation amounts for these kinds of cases can be high given the severity of the impact.
Data breaches by hospitals hit the headlines all too frequently and, in many cases, the breaches could have been easily avoided if the appropriate precautions were taken.
For example, one form of data breach often publicised in the news is the accidental email error, in which a sender either mistakenly attaches a file containing private information, or they fail to anonymise the names of recipients when sending out a message to a list of multiple contacts. In such cases, it would have only taken a quick check on behalf of the sender or an automated reminder from the computer to prevent the data breach from occurring.
In a similar vein, we have also seen hospitals mistakenly publish data online, leaving it vulnerable to unauthorised access. For instance, we are currently representing victims of the Blackpool NHS Trust data breach, which saw the personal data of 6,574 employees posted online and left there for over a year.
Data breaches by hospitals can be made more severe by the sensitive nature of the data in their possession. Many people only reveal details of their health conditions to their closest family and friends, with good reason. The sensitivity of medical information makes it a valuable resource for fraudsters, who may regard it as potent fuel for blackmail.
Employees of hospitals also disclose highly sensitive data, as many hospitals record details of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability for diversity monitoring purposes. When this information is exposed, the privacy of employees can be severely compromised in their own workplace.
Fortunately, the law entitles victims to claim compensation for the emotional and financial impact of data breaches. In addition to recovering compensation, making a claim can help to hold the organisation in question to account for the damage they caused.
There is no excuse for poor data protection provision, and data breaches by hospitals must be taken seriously.
To recover compensation for a data breach you have suffered, come to Your Lawyers – the Data Leak Lawyers – as leading data protection solicitors to discuss your potential claim. We can offer, free no-obligation advice regarding the compensation pay-out you could be entitled to, so contact us for free, no-obligation advice today, or sign up for a call-back.
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