Conviction in Health Information Act Investigation

April 29, 2014

A woman has been convicted of knowingly accessing the personal health information of 34 people in contravention of the Health Information Act (HIA), along with three Criminal Code charges related to falsified documents.

Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton opened an offence investigation into unauthorized access of health information following a breach reported to her office by Calgary Lab Services. The matter was referred to Crown prosecutors at Alberta Justice and, in fall of 2012, Christie McCarthy of Airdrie was charged with 34 offences under the HIA as well as six Criminal Code offences (see Calgary Provincial Court docket 121059968P1).

McCarthy pleaded guilty to one global charge for improper access of health information under the HIA and three charges of uttering forged documents under the Criminal Code. She received a four month conditional sentence followed by eight months’ probation in relation to the Criminal Code offences and a $500 fine in relation to the HIA offence.

The agreed statement of facts details how McCarthy altered a lab test result and unlawfully accessed the health information of 34 people including neighbours, acquaintances, and family members of a man she was in a personal relationship with. She was a Medical Laboratory Assistant at the Calgary Laboratory Services Patient Service Centre in Airdrie when this occurred.

“Our office takes it very seriously when someone accesses health information for purposes unrelated to patient care and we will continue to hold offenders accountable in these circumstances,” commented Assistant Commissioner Marylin Mun.

This is the third time charges have been laid under the HIA and the third conviction.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner works independently of government to protect the access and privacy rights of all Albertans.