ISLAMABAD: A case has been registered against an employee of the Quaid-i-Azam Hospital for allegedly stealing data from the CT scan machine and according to a supreme court lawyer, the case might be the first of its kind in the country.

Iftikhar Ali, the chief security officer at the hospital, who is the complainant in the FIR, told Dawn that an employee had stolen patient data from the hospital in connivance with others.

“I cannot give you the exact number of patients whose data was stolen, but it is a large number because the information in question was collected over four years,” he said.

Mr Ali said the patients’ names, phone numbers and addresses were included in the records that were stolen.

“This information can be used against them and the hospital. The patients who were treated at the hospital can be blackmailed,” he said, adding that all hospitals keep patient information confidential.

“That is why it was decided to involve the police so they can help make sure the data is not used for the wrong purposes,” he said.

Mr Ali added that the suspect, who has since been arrested, also copied the machines’ software, due to which the software had been corrupted.

“The software was expensive and we bought it three years ago for around Rs35 million. Now we will have to buy it again and its price will have increased even more,” he said.

The investigation officer at the Shams Colony Police Station, Ghulam Habib told Dawn that the suspect had been arrested and a case registered against him.

“The suspect claims he was not involved in the theft and that some persons had come into the record room and copied the data and that he had tried to stop them,” he said.

“We are investigating the issue and the inquiry will be completed soon,” he said.

Talking to Dawn, an advocate in the Supreme Court, Riasat Ali Azad said that though there were instances of medical records of a particular patient being stolen or “disappearing’ usually to avoid a court case or for insurance claims, he has never before heard of a case of such a large amount of patient data being stolen in Pakistan.

He pointed out that the sections under which the case was registered were also interesting with section 380 meant for theft from a ‘dwelling house’ which he explained meant “a theft from a house of office in which people live or visit”.

The other section under which the case was registered is section 457 for ‘lurking house- trespass’ which the lawyer said was meant for when thieves break in a window or a wall of a house and steal valuables.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2016

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