Fury and concern were today expressed by doctors and medical groups that confidential medical records were dumped and ended up lying in a field.
Medical files containing sensitive information were discovered in a former landfill near the Elm Tree bar in Glounthaune —being excavated for the Cork-Midleton rail line — by a local woman 48 hours ago.
Patient Focus and doctor groups today responded in horror that hundreds of confidential files from the former Cork Regional Hospital — now Cork University Hospital — and St Finbarr’s Hospital dating from 1970-1983, had been discarded so inappropriately.
Dr Christine O’Malley, former president of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) and representative of Doctors Alliance who call for better patient care, said she sympathised with the distress that patients of the hospitals were feeling today: “To discover these files intact and seemingly on public display must be highly distressing, especially if someone has a severe condition such as depression.
“It’s shocking to see these files not being taken seriously at institutional level.”
Dr Rory Lehane, spokesman for the Irish College of General Practitioners, added: “Medical records are extremely private and confidential...but now it’s in the public domain, this can have serious implications.”
This morning the HSE were examining who they had contracted to carry out the appropriate disposal of the files, as they had several contractors throughout the 70s and 80s.
After investigations at the site with the county council, the files were to be removed by the HSE. The Evening Echo newspaper asked the HSE what patients who were in the affected hospitals between 1970 and 1983 could do today to seek help.
A spokesperson said: “There isn’t a help line at the moment. We don’t believe that many people will have seen these files, and we can assure the public that when they are collected they will be in very good care.”