London clinic leaks HIV status of hundreds of patients
The NHS sexual health clinic 56 Dean Street has apologised for a data leak, in which it is understood the HIV status of 780 patients has been disclosed. The breach occurred when an email newsletter sent to patients was 'cc-ed', rather than 'bcc-ed' to patients, thus disclosing the identity of the patients to every recipient of the newsletter. The clinic has attributed the leak to human error.
A number of patients have complained about the breach of confidentiality and the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is likely to face an investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office (the ICO). The ICO has the power to impose fines of up to £500,000 for data protection breaches. Additionally, the Trust could face individual claims for compensation for the misuse of private information, breach of confidence and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998. Where medical information has been leaked claimants are entitled to seek compensation for the infringement and distress.
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Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.