A nurse accessed personal health information in a way that was deemed inappropriate while working at Grace Hospital, according to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

In a news release, the WRHA said that after an audit they discovered a breach of the Personal Health Information Act. The breach occurred when a nurse, who has access to the emergency department information system (EDIS) for their work at one location, accessed information “inappropriately” while working outside of the emergency department at Grace Hospital.

“Access to our emergency data information system is vital for nurses and staff working within the emergency department to ensure they have access to and can share information about the provision of care at any point in their shift,” said Lori Lamont, acting chief operating officer for the WRHA, in the release.

Lamont said the nurse had been looking at the information for a period of four months.

“The information we received from the investigation was that this person thought it was an appropriate learning activity," Lamont said at a press conference Monday.

“The only time that information may be used outside of the emergency department, however, is for patient transfers – which did not occur in this instance.”

In March, a manager told the nurse to stop accessing information unnecessarily after a concern was raised about their use of personal health information, said the WRHA. An audit was initiated and completed by April 9, 2018. It determined that 1,756 people were affected.

The audit also found that no evidence indicates that any person was specifically targeted and no other information systems were inappropriately accessed.

The news release says that the nurse had been trained on accessing personal health information and knew their obligations under the PHIA. The nurse said that they did not keep or retain any of the information. There is no evidence the reports were printed.

“We are contacting all individuals who were affected and encourage them to connect back with our privacy office should they have any concerns or questions about the information they receive,” said Lamont. 

“We are very sorry for the distress this breach may cause any individuals, who will receive notification in the coming weeks.”

Manitoba Nurses Union president Sandi Mowat told CTV News, "MNU is aware of the incidents in question. We are working with both the individual and the employer to address this issue and improve policies and procedues that are designed to protect privacy. We take confidentiality very seriously and will provide any assistance required."