Journal of Medical Ethics 37 (1):58-60 (2011)

Mark Lim
University of Adelaide
Recent large-scale personal data loss incidents highlighted the need for public bodies to more securely handle confidential data. We surveyed trainees from all specialties in the Welsh Deanery for their knowledge and practice. All registered trainees were invited to participate in an online anonymised survey. There were 880 completed and non-duplicated responses (52.9% response rate). Responses were analysed using Microsoft Access. Over 40% (388/880 (44.1%)) did not use formal guidelines on storage or disposal of confidential data. The majority appeared to dispose of confidential paper documents securely, that is, using shredders and white shredder bags. However, there were significant numbers of unmarked responses. Clinical documents, such as theatre lists, were taken home by 281/880 (31.9%) of trainees. The majority secured their computers (569/871 (65.3%)) by either not keeping patient identifiable data on them or using encryption. However, 302/871 (34.7%) did not adequately secure their computers. The surgical and anaesthetic specialties were least aware of formal confidentiality guidelines (95/178 (53.4%)) and 52/102 (51.0%) respectively) and least secured their computers (106/178 (59.6%) and 63/102 (61.8%) respectively). Education is needed to improve knowledge and practice of confidential data handling. This may be delivered through workshops during induction programmes or as part of European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) modules. Training is especially indicated for the surgical and anaesthetic specialties
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DOI 10.1136/jme.2010.036533
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