Pharmacist Fined for Spying on Friends' Medical Records

November 16, 2014
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

A pharmacist in the United Kingdom who got a little too curious about his friends' and family's medical records has been convicted of data protection offenses and fined.

A pharmacist in the United Kingdom who got a little too curious about his friends’ and family’s medical records has been convicted of data protection offenses and fined.

Harkanwarjit Dhanju used his authority as a “sessional pharmacist” to unlawfully spy on the records of his family members, coworkers, and local health professionals while working at West Sussex Primary Care Trust, according to The Register. Now, he’s facing a fine of about $1500 for violations of the Data Protection Act, plus a victim surcharge of $156, and almost another $1000 in prosecution costs.

A surgery manager detected the breach in privacy during an audit last February, according to The Register. Dhanju had been using his security pass to view records unrelated to what he was supposed to be handling, which were medication reviews for patients with dementia or other mental health issues in residential care homes, The Register reported.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued a press release on November 13, 2014, in which the Head of Enforcement Stephen Eckersley stated, “The public will be rightly concerned that a medical professional in a position of trust decided to act in this way. We hope today’s prosecution sends a clear message to anyone who may be tempted to do likewise, that unlawfully accessing people’s medical records is a criminal offence and will result with you being rewarded with a day in court.”

The Register noted that the ICO hopes to see more serious sentences issued to deter individuals from unlawfully accessing personal data.