Medical records contain sensitive personal information, including medical history, diagnoses, and treatment plans. Healthcare providers are legally obligated to safeguard this information from unauthorised access or disclosure. Regrettably, data breaches can happen, and can risk patients’ privacy. If you suspect that your medical data has been compromised, you might be curious whether you can claim compensation for a medical data breach. The process can be intricate and time-critical, and prompt action is crucial.
In this write-up, we explore the basics of medical data breaches and the measures you can take to file a claim for medical data breach compensation. We will also discuss the time limits for making a medical data breach claim and the prospective payouts successful claims could bring.
Additionally, we will emphasise the advantages of making a No Win No Fee data breach claim and offer resources to help you learn more about claiming medical data breach compensation.
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Can I Make A Claim For A Medical Data Breach?
In the situation of a breach of medical data, the subsequent requirements need to be satisfied to meet the eligibility criteria for claiming:
The claimant must have undergone some form of damage or loss as a consequence of the breach. Such loss could be financial in nature, such as expenses incurred for identity theft protection, medical treatment or credit monitoring, as well as non-monetary, such as reputational loss, anxiety or emotional distress.
The healthcare provider neglected to take suitable measures to secure the medical information of the patient from illegal disclosure, loss, or access. This could occur because of hacking, technical errors, or human fallibility.
The loss or damage suffered by the claimant must have resulted from the breach. In simpler terms, the claimant must demonstrate that the harm they suffered would not have taken place if not for the breach.
The level of harm suffered must be proportionate to the severity of the breach. This implies that the data breach compensation awarded should be commensurate with the harm suffered and the magnitude of the breach.
How Long Do I Have To Make A Medical Data Breach Claim?
In England and Wales, the general time limit for filing a medical data breach claim is six years. Generally, this is from the date of the breach, but it is usually less for breaches by public bodies. However, some exceptions apply, such as cases where the claimant lacked mental capacity or was under 18 at the time of the breach, which may extend the time limit.
It’s important to understand that the six-year time limit is not absolute and can be influenced by various factors. Therefore, if you suspect that your medical data has been compromised, it’s crucial to seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure that you don’t miss the deadline for making a medical data breach claim.
Medical Records And Data Breaches
The Data Protection Act 2018 is the legal framework protecting medical records in England and Wales, and personal data in general. It incorporates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into UK law. The Act requires all healthcare providers, whether they are private or NHS to take measures to maintain patient data confidentiality. They must also act to prevent unauthorised access, disclosure, or destruction of patient data.
Medical records data breaches can occur due to different threats.
Medical data breaches can sometimes happen due to humans’ errors. Examples of human error could include the unintentional disclosure of patient data to another patient or staff member who is not authorised to learn of it. Or, this could involve leaving sensitive information unsecured.
Another method could be cybercriminality. These can include hacking or ransomware attacks. Cybercriminals could attempt to extract patient data for their own purposes.
Additionally, data breaches can result from malicious insiders. A person like this could intentionally access and disclose patient data for personal gain or to inflict harm.
Medical data breaches can have a range of consequences for patients. Some of these can include financial loss, identity theft, and emotional distress. Data controllers who neglect to safeguard patient data can face substantial fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Medical Data Breach Examples
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined the NHS for data breaches.
One incident fines imposed in 2016, led to a fine of £400,000 for the NHS. It related to a data breach that occurred in 2011. The breach involved the disclosure of personal information for over 450,000 sexual health clinic patients.
In 2019, the ICO fined the NHS £275,000 when staff at an NHS trust accidentally faxed sensitive patient information to the wrong number. The breach affected 31 patients.
These fines highlight the importance of the NHS and healthcare providers taking data protection seriously, and implementing appropriate measures to safeguard sensitive patient information.
Medical Data Breach Compensation Payouts
In England and Wales, compensation for a medical data breach is assessed on an individual basis. Legal professional assess a range of factors, including the severity of the breach, the extent of any financial loss, and the individual’s mental health.
In cases where a medical data breach causes a recognised psychiatric condition, compensation may be awarded to cover any financial losses incurred as a result of the breach, as well as for the individual’s pain, suffering, and loss of amenity.
The Judicial College Guidelines provide guidance to legal professionals in the United Kingdom on the appropriate level of damages to be awarded in personal injury cases. In cases where a data breach has resulted in the claimant suffering from a recognised psychiatric condition, such as anxiety or depression, legal professionals could use the Guidelines as a reference point for compensation.
- Severe cases of PTSD, in which an individual is unlikely to be able to work or function in society: Suggested award is between £59,860 to £100,670.
- Severe PTSD where an individual is able to function in a limited manner: Suggested award is between £23,150 to £59,860.
- Moderate PTSD or cases where the individual is expected to recover fully: Suggested award between £8,180 to £23,150.
- Less severe PTSD where the individual has largely recovered within a year: Suggested award is between £3,950 to £8,180.
It’s important to note that these are only guidelines. The amount of compensation awarded in each case will depend on the individual circumstances of the case.
Make A No Win No Fee Data Breach Claim Today
Learn More About Claiming Data Breach Compensation
Now, you can find more information on making a medical data breach compensation claim by visiting the links below:
How much compensation could I claim for a medical data breach? – This guide explains how to calculate compensation.
How to report a data breach – Here you can find out how to report data breaches.
More on No Win No Fee data breach claims – Additionally, you can find out more about making a claim under a Conditional Fee Agreement here.
Guide to the UK GDPR – The Information Commissioner’s Office describes the law here.
Personal data breaches – Furthermore, you can find information from the ICO on personal data breaches here.
Mental Health Conditions – Finally, the NHS provides advice on mental health conditions here.