Data protection among junior medical staff: a questionnaire study.
J Patient Saf. 2013 Jun;9(2):75-8
Authors: Titchener AG, Ramoutar A, Ramoutar DN, Yousef A
OBJECTIVE: There have been numerous reports of loss of confidential information amongst UK public agencies. The aim of the study was to examine current standards of practice and knowledge of junior medical staff with respect to management of patient identifiable information.
METHODS: An anonymous multiple choice questionnaire was completed by 50 junior medical staff in each of 2 separate district general hospitals in the UK.
RESULTS: Sixty-two percent of physicians surveyed held patient identifiable information electronically, outside of normal NHS use. Thirty percent of physicians used portable memory sticks, of which, 68% were not password protected. Ninety percent of physicians used patient ward lists in paper format with 18% frequently using a domestic waste bin for disposal. Thirty-five percent of physicians were aware of the Caldicott principles, and 58% were aware of the Data Protection Act as applied to their duties.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite having statutory duties toward the management of patient identifiable information, many physicians are not aware of their responsibilities and obligations. This is unlikely to be an isolated local issue. More emphasis needs to be placed on data management in hospital induction procedures for new employees, and security measures, such as encryption software, should be made more widely available.
PMID: 23429244 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]