A U.K. hospital started an investigation after a governor voiced her concerns about the security of patient notes in taxis

13 March 2013

HOSPITAL bosses have stepped in after concerns were raised over taxis being used to convey patient notes and specimens.

Derriford Hospital has carried out an investigation after confidentiality concerns were voiced by a governor.

Vera Mitchell told a Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust Board meeting how she was worried about the security and confidentiality of the notes.

She said that, arriving by taxi, they were sometimes conveyed in insecure containers and deposited at the porters’ lodge.

The Trust, which runs Derriford, said “immediate actions” had been taken to ensure patient confidentially was not breached.

Mrs Mitchell said she had been aware of delays in conveying the notes to the designated secure room – and suggested there had been a potential to breach patient confidentiality.

She was seeking assurances that the matter would be investigated.

“I raised the issue because I did have concerns,” Mrs Mitchell said.

“I wanted to make sure that the potential for a patient confidentiality breach was removed.”

Ann James, chief executive at the Trust, said immediate action had been taken.

That included ensuring boxes used to contain notes were now secured, notes were never left unattended at the porters’ lodge, and that they were also receipted to allow for tracking.

In February’s board meeting report, Ms James said: “Following an issue of concern raised by a public question at the meeting, immediate action was taken to safeguard security of notes delivered to the hospital.

“Since the last board meeting, dedicated and expert programme lead support has been brought in to progress this important area of work.”

The issue surrounding patient notes was brought to the attention of the Trust’s medical director Alex Mayor, as well as its Caldicott Guardian, a senior member of staff appointed specifically to protect patient information.

Nick Thomas, director of planning and site services, said: “Notes collected and delivered by taxi are on a scheduled and contracted service and as such, controls are in place to ensure that procedures with regard to patient confidentiality are adhered to at all times.

“A review of the movement of patient notes to and from the Derriford site has recently been carried out and some immediate actions have already been put in place.

“Notes are securely sealed and a receipt is issued for all notes both collected and dropped by taxi to ensure that they are never left unattended.

“This review is ongoing and we will continue to work hard to ensure the security of all of our patient information.”

Mrs Mitchell said she was now satisfied that patient notes were secure and had been assured no breach took place.

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