NEWS

Patients’ rights at risk

Hospitals, clinics, slimming centers, and the Health Ministry are suspected of leaking patients’ private information to third parties, according to the annual report of the Authority for the Protection of Private Data. This could range from companies sending baby goods to mothers who recently gave birth to third parties being informed of a patient’s health. The report to Parliament, in keeping with the state body’s commitment to privacy, does not name transgressors. But it says that it imposed fines on 12 people responsible for handling personal data, issued warnings in 12 cases and strong warnings in another eight. Four cases were sent to the prosecutor. In one case a public entity was fined while a private company, a state service and a municipality were ordered to erase data filed illegally. The report refers to inspections for confidentiality of medical filing systems but also of credit worthiness companies that had been the focus of the privacy watchdog’s attentions over the past two years. The latter appear to have corrected their ways. But regarding the health sector, the Authority found «a lack of confidentiality measures, which forced the Authority to issue operating licenses for patients’ archives on condition that a code of ethics be drawn up, a confidentiality policy be adopted and special security measures taken.» Among those inspected were the Andreas Syngros, Sotiria and Alexandra state hospitals, the Hera and Mitera private maternity clinics, the private psychiatric clinic Galini, and the Biocheck, Euromedica, DNA and Bioiatriki clinics and slimming centers. The Health Ministry’s files (most of which were electronic while others were still on paper) were found to lack both «physical and technical security measures,» suggesting that data was not under lock and key. The Authority also found problems in information moving between health funds and the ministry in the form of prescriptions, and noted the need for new methods – such as using codes to transfer data. In the past year the Authority also dealt with complaints regarding the Teiresias interbank debtors archive, direct marketing companies and the sharing of information between countries according to the Schengen agreement. It also approved DNA analysis in terrorism cases and criticized «reality shows.» Regarding «new employees,» both men and women will retire at 65 after a minimum of 4,500 work days (15 years), or at any age after working for 37 years. «Old» employees can retire after 15 years of work when men turn 65 and women 60. For those with 10,000 workdays under their belts, men can retire at 62 and women at 57. These employees can retire with a full pension at 57 if they have worked for 35 years and at any age if they have worked for 37 years.