There are concerns among patients from Westmeath and Longford amid claims that patient records discovered in a bin outside Roscommon Hospital relate to former patients of Mullingar Hospital.
The HSE has ordered an immediate investigation into allegations that confidential patient information was disposed of inappropriately at the facility.
The documents, which it is alleged contain sensitive information about a number of patients, including names, addresses, dates of birth, and medical details including conditions and test results, are thought to relate to patients treated at the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar in 2011.
The documents have been handed over to the office of the Data Protection Commissioner in Portarlington for investigation, while the HSE has also launched its own investigation.
The discovery was made by a member of the public out walking her dog, who contacted the Roscommon Hospital Action Committee to help retrieve them. Chairperson of that group, John McDermott, informed the Gardai and Data Protection Commissioner.
Gardai confirmed yesterday that they were aware of the discovery.
Speaking to the Advertiser yesterday, Mr McDermott said he had no idea how the “couple of hundred pages” of documents came to end up in a bin outside Roscommon hospital.
“I have no idea why they are in Roscommon; the bin is on hospital grounds but it is a public bin. We are all entitled to our privacy, particularly in situations where we are vulnerable. This is a huge issue as patients from Roscommon are being transferred all over the country; can we be assured that our records will be safe?”
In a statement yesterday, the HSE said it has “very clear policies in place for the disposal of confidential documents and takes any potential breach of these policies extremely seriously”.
“The HSE has established an immediate investigation into claims that confidential patient information was disposed of inappropriately at Roscommon County Hospital,” it read.
Local TD Nicky McFadden also called for an immediate investigation into the claims.