The police were able to find and arrest people injured in last Wednesday's extradition bill protests because officers have been given secret backdoor access to the Hospital Authority's patient database, medical sector lawmaker Pierre Chan said on Monday.
However, the Hospital Authority said it didn't hand over any records and the Police Commissioner, Stephen Lo, said the arrests were made as a result of normal police work, using officers stationed at public hospitals.
Chan said he has obtained evidence that police officers – and other parties – can use computers at accident and emergency units in public hospitals to access a link – without the need for a password – to obtain patients’ information including their name, ID card numbers, phone numbers, age and the date and time of their treatment.
He said the backdoor was designed by the Hospital Authority's head office, but frontline medical staff only found out about it following the protest arrests.
“The doctors and nurses in the accident and emergency departments tried to find out why the patients attending A&E got caught. And we didn’t understand. And that’s why they tried to figure it out. And accidentally they found this link, found this backdoor,” Chan told a press conference on Monday.
“And this system is set up by the head office and also the IT system. It’s not the frontline,” he said.
He presented photographs that apparently showed a “disaster case list” categorised specifically as “for police”, which provides various types of information on patients.
Chan accused the Hospital Authority of leaking “a large quantity of patient data”, saying it had failed to protect patients’ rights and had breached privacy rules.
The legislator said frontline staff are worried that the system will destroy people’s trust, and protesters may in future be deterred from seeking treatment.
He also demanded that the authority stop the system at once, and give an explanation to the public. He also advised frontline staff not to write on their records that a patient is believed to have been injured while taking part in a protest.
However, the Hospital Authority said it didn't hand over any patients records regarding last Wednesday's protests to the police. It said its data system was a closed system that only allowed staff to log on.
It says it would investigate whether any staff members leaked the information, and added that it had referred the case to the privacy commissioner.
Police Commissioner Stephen Lo dismissed the lawmaker's allegation, saying the information came from officers stationed at public hospitals.
Last updated: 2019-06-17 HKT 23:21
'Police given secret access to hospital database'
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