A NURSE has been struck off after she admitted snooping on the confidential medical records of her own friends, family and a colleague.
Jennifer Susan Ramsay, 37, admitted she was no longer fit to practice after the data protection breach was uncovered by suspicious colleagues.
The nurse, who worked at the MacMillan Day Care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Dundee admitted accessing ten people’s records, including a staff nurse at the hospital.
She was not present at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing in Edinburgh earlier this week, but sent the disciplinary committee a statement admitting she ‘worked in a very irresponsible manner.’
Suspicions were raised about Ramsay in 2010 when a fellow staff nurse at a Roxburghe House palliative care unit in Dundee’s Royal Victoria Hospital complained her records had been accessed.
Reading a statement from the care unit’s manager Anne Robb, the NMC’s case presenter, Yusuf Segovia, said: “In January 2010 Patient A, a staff nurse at Roxburghe house, complained that someone had been discussing her medical records.
“She heard people discussing private details.”
This led to a full check of the patient’s records, which found they had been accessed without cause on a number of occasions.
Ramsay initially denied making the unauthorised checks, but was suspended pending an investigation.
Ms Robb’s statement continued: “During the course of the investigation it appeared she had accessed several other patient files, some of which belonged to her friends and family.
“She admitted this in an interview.”
Ramsay was dismissed following a disciplinary hearing on 4 March 2010. She was told she had breached NHS Tayside’s Code of Conduct and the Data Protection Act.
Mr Segovia, said Ramsay had sent a letter saying she would not be attending.
A statement from Ramsay also said: “I worked in a very irresponsible manner and am left with this thought daily.”
Her statement also made reference to wanting to help some of the patients, the NMC said.
Part of the hearing was heard in private, in order to protect the identity of the staff nurse involved, referred to as “Patient A”.
The case was being heard by a disciplinary panel of two registered nurses and lay chair Mike Moran.
Explaining the decision to strike Ramsay off, an NMC statement said: “The panel is of the view that the conduct in breaching patient confidentiality had the effect of undermining the public confidence in the profession and had adverse consequences on the well being of Patient A.
“Ms Ramsay knew what was expected of her as an experienced nurse and as such would have been aware of the policies and procedures in place within the Trust.”
The case is not the only incident of a data protection breach at a hospital.
In November last year NHS Lothian launched an investigation after a cleaner accessed a patient’s information on an information screen meant only for nurses.
The details were used by the cleaner to contact a patient on Facebook, who raised the alarm after she received a ‘friend request’ from the cleaner.