Friday, 6 December 2013

Maternity hospital staff accused of selling patient data to telemarketers

A hospital in Shangahi has suspended the head nurse of one of its maternity wards while it investigates suspicions that she has sold the personal information of new mothers, a senior official told the Global Times Thursday.
The suspension followed a Shanghai Television Station (STV) exposé that showed the nurse, who was not identified, considering a proposal to sell information about the new mothers to an undercover reporter posing as a company representative.
"We are not sure whether the nurse actually deals in information about new mothers," said the official, who works in the Party office of Shanghai Fengxian District Central Hospital. "We will release the results of our investigation soon."
The nurse told the STV reporter that she would like to make some money, but feared it was too risky to make such a deal at present, according to the hidden camera footage aired in the exposé Wednesday evening.
Last month, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning issued 10 new rules for hospital and medical personnel, including one that prohibited leaking or selling patient information.
The nurse suggested that the reporter wait until the current regime of oversight loosens up.
"I am a very careful person," she told the reporter. "I don't deal with just anyone who comes up to me. I like to make money, but only when it is safe."
The nurse ended up telling the reporter that she first wanted to speak to the head nurse in the hospital's other obstetrics ward before proceeding with a deal.
The senior official said the hospital has taken no action against the other nurse because there is no evidence that she was involved in the incident.
STV began looking into the hospital after the station received a complaint from a mother, surnamed Xu, who said she has been deluged by telemarketing calls for baby products and services since she gave birth at the hospital in October.
Xu said she almost got swindled 3,000 yuan ($493) by people suspiciously familiar with her personal information and the details of her child's birth, including the baby's birth weight, according to the STV report. Xu suspected that the telemarketers had obtained her information from the hospital because an insurance agent who called said his company worked closely with the hospital.
Although anecdotes about selling new mothers' personal information abound in Shanghai, it is difficult to determine the scope of the problem.
Authorities have uncovered cases in the past. In 2012, an employee for a company that maintains a database for the city's health authorities was accused of selling the personal information of more than 100,000 newborn babies, according to the news portal eastday.com. The employee earned more than 30,000 yuan from the sales.
Health authorities at the municipal and district levels did not reply to interview requests by press time Thursday.
Zhang Pinlian, vice Party secretary of the Fengxian District Health Bureau, told STV Thursday that authorities began looking into the case Wednesday evening and would punish the nurse if they determined she has been selling patient information.
Zhang Ming, a hospital spokesperson, said that no one has presented any evidence yet that proves the nurse has leaked or sold personal information, according to the STV report.
Source: Global Times

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