Ballina hospital staff failed to shred private patient records found in bin

Private patient records which were found in a bin in a Ballina housing estate in August were not shredded as they should have been according to policy set down by the HSE.

A meeting of the HSE West regional forum was told on Tuesday that an investigation into the incident had been completed and it was established that there was a breach of the hospital’s policy concerning the requirement of on-site shredding of work notes.

The notes from Ballina District Hospital were found in a bin by a litter warden and returned to the hospital. It is believed that some 25 patients’ records were removed from the hospital and “improperly disposed of”.

The issue was raised by Councillor Annie May Reape who requested a report from the HSE into the breach of patient confidentiality.

Mr Michael Fahey, Older Peoples’ Services in Mayo, told Cllr Reape: “The utmost importance of adherence to hospital’s policy regarding the shredding of such daily worksheets into the shredders [which are provided on site] has been re-enforced to all of our staff across the hospital, with a view to ensuring that there is no recurrence of this type of issue in relation to confidential and sensitive hospital documentation.”

He said the HSE was now satisfied that the “necessary and appropriate steps” have been taken to ensure that such breaches do not occur again.

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