back to article Hospital data boob: Records left in bin room got binned

Bungling hospital staff accidentally destroyed patient data after a worker put 10,000 records in the wrong room, an investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office [ICO] revealed today. The lost records were boxed up and put in a ward waste disposal room because there wasn't enough space in the proper storage room, the …


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  1. Willington

    Every cloud...

    At least the waste disposal procedures are efficient.

  2. Anonymous John

    This is good, isn't it?

    Nobody is going tp leave it on a train now.

    1. Pete B


      If they haven't been oficially destroyed though it's possible some went missing before the asumed destruction, and hence leak out that way - they seem to have assumed that because they were l;eft in a disposal room, and aren't there now that they were destroyed.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      You've done it now, tempting fate like that.

      Next week: "Destroyed" Hospital records FOUND ON TRAIN!!111!!! Pictures at 11.

    3. John Sturdy


      Alternatively, if it's just printout of computer files, they could just offer a reward for the return of the USB stick with the same data on it, that they lost a while ago....

      1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

        Ward waste tends to be incinerated. If the hospital were following normal procedures then you can be pretty sure the documents were destroyed.

  3. Sam Liddicott

    too efficient

    This sort of thing happens with the drive for over-efficiency.

    Sometimes having more rooms than you normally need can save many times the cost when the circumstance comes around.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hence the policy for leaving USB sticks in trains, in pubs, on the pavement, etc to provide an off-site backup capability!

  5. Tim Almond

    "The ICO ruled that the trust had breached the Data Protection Act by accidentally destroying the archived records and has ordered it to take action to ensure that staff are aware of data protection policies."

    How many times has this been done so far?

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      and yet still noone has had their hands cut off!

  6. Stephen Hunt

    Hospital data boob

    So this isn't some new form of wearable storage device?

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      At least...

      Nobody had a mass-storage-tectomy...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Civil Service careers were harmed

    The ICO are rubbish.

  8. deains


    No room in the secure archive? Hmm, okay, I'll just put these into waste disposal. They'll be perfectly safe there I'm sure!

  9. Alain Moran

    Why bother with a bigger room?

    Why not swap out the filing cabinets for a scanner and an old machine with a big hard-drive?

    Bolt everything to the floor, disconnect the usb sockets, dont bother with a network connection and you wont have any problems with the data going walkies!

    Next time you run out of space, just buy a bigger hard-drive, copy the old data across and swap out the old disk, once you have checked you have copied all the data over you should then take a standard steel drill and put a hole through the old drive casing & platters.

    Data security is only as complicated as you make it.

    1. mark 63 Silver badge

      its more complicated than that

      "take a standard steel drill and put a hole through the old drive casing & platters."

      Although this would in my opinion destroy the data beyond retrieval , It wouldnt meet current standards. Mainly because you you didnt pay through the nose to have someone else do it - the difference being that person has a government EEE certificate.

      I think they shred the drives , then feed them to shark with a frikkin laser on its head , that is then sent out sea 10 miles and detonated. This ensures safe data destruction.

  10. kain preacher

    No it's not good

    What if it was paper discipline documents. Yes that machine was properly maintained oops ? Is that patient a drug seeker .

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hrm, let me guess the outcome. £10 suspended fine from the Information Commissioner, and a statement from the hospital that procedures are being put in place and lessons have been learned? Am I close?

    1. Greemble
      Big Brother

      Fairly close

      Except for the fine.

      - It doesn't look like that was one. Or a statement required from the hospital, either.

      I wonder how these records were destroyed ?- They're probably sitting in a skip waiting to be taken to land fill, still.

      BB icon - He'd know how to look after records.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You're off by 10 Pounds.

      Sorry, my US keyboard doesn't have that funny looking L, but does have the funny looking S.

      1. Greemble

        US Keyboard does - sort of...

        Type Alt+0163 to insert the £ sign

  12. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Could have been worse...

    They are also short of room in wards, so they could have put some patients in there as well.

    Perhaps they did.....

  13. Alan Firminger

    And what hasn't been said

    Darent Valley Hospital is a completely new built PFI building that opened in 2000. Work out how the records storage was inadequate.

    1. dylan 4


      Opened in 2000 probably means designed in 1995, size of storage halved on plans in 1996 in a drive to reduce costs, because "_surely_ we'll be paperless by the time we open!"

  14. Black Betty

    A big part of the data retention headache... the ever broadening criteria for what has to be kept and for how long.

    Here in Australia, it's now necessary to retain documentation on kids for up to 21 years, medical , childcare, schooling, anything "official".

    @Alan F

    Hmm, 9/11, 2001 perhaps? Routine site access logs once held for 3 months suddenly shifting to 7 years plus retention alone could do it? Rinse repeat for OR swab logs; A budget cut which slowed down the process of moving records to microfiche?

  15. Jacqui

    licences and points

    Require managers to have licences to manage hospitals or any public service even if outsourced.

    Stick a point on each managers licence down the path when the data was lost - no excuses - data is lost you get a point minimum.

    Twelve points and you lose the right to work for any public service for N years. We already force builders, gas, leccies and drivers etc. to carry cards why not public officials we supposedly trust with our deepest medical details?

    The above scheme also provides more incentive for higher ups to ensure those below follow the rules as they will collect points faster if they dont have good crontol of staff below them.

    Oh, this only applies to managers so no cards for cleaners, secretaries, nurses etc :-)

  16. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    At least things are getting better.

    Back in 1980 I was seriously injured while on holiday. The hospital asked for the name and address of my GP so they could send on all the records when I was discharged. On consulting my GP a short while afterwards I found that he had no record of my injuries. He contacted the hospital and it turned out that they had, for some reason posted the records to the wrong address. He asked for them to send another copy, but it turned out they had posted the originals without keeping a copy. The address they had used did not exist, they seemed to have mix up two addresses. So the odds are that my records sat in a dead letter office for a while and were then destroyed.

    No backup copies. Posting originals. Not bothering with recorded or tracked delivery for important original documents. Can you imagine what the ICO would make of that today?

  17. J.G.Harston Silver badge


    The records weren't accidently destroyed, they were deliberately destroyed. They had been placed in the waste room, therefore, they were declared to be waste. The waste room operatives therefore duely accepted this waste and destroyed it.

    If it's not destined for the bin, don't put it in a bin bag, as I said to somebody years ago who lost most of their clothes that way.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For keyboards without a funny looking L, there is always Charmap.exe.

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