Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital loses patient data on USB flash drive

Red faces at Sanatorium after thumb drive holding medical and personal details mislaid

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 3:52am

A private hospital catering to wealthy patients and members of the city's power elite yesterday revealed that it has lost a USB memory device holding personal data on 68 patients.

The Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital in Happy Valley admitted that a staff member's personal USB flash drive was reported missing on Monday after being lost last Saturday.

It held data on 36 bone density test results, 19 live configuration tests, 10 patient information change notifications and three case studies from the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology.

It also held the names, birthdates and identity card numbers of patients who had attended the hospital between 2008 and last year.

None of the information was encrypted or password-protected. No home addresses or phone numbers had been stored on the flash drive, however.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said the commissioner received a report from the Hong Kong Sanatorium yesterday afternoon. She said the commissioner would follow up on the incident and conduct a compliance check if necessary.

The private hospital is favoured by the rich and powerful, including 91-year-old casino magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun, who routinely attends for check-ups.

Billionaire Cheng Yu-tung, owner of jewellery chain Chow Tai Fook and chairman of New World Development, was admitted there last year for an undisclosed reason.

A spokeswoman said the hospital was "very concerned about the incident", and that it had contacted patients whose data had been lost to apologise.

The hospital said it had investigated the cause and introduced new measures to protect personal data. An internal inquiry will follow, with disciplinary action against any staff involved.

The Department of Health last night said it had received a report on the incident from the Hong Kong Sanatorium and is following up with it on its remedial actions.