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I was working late last week and decided to finish a report I was writing at home. Later on I wanted to save my work and realised that I couldn't find my USB memory stick anywhere. I am really worried because there was some statistical and patient identifiable data on it. What should I do now?
Any loss of data should be reported to the nominated senior person within your organisation straight away. This is so that appropriate action can be taken, which may include informing the patients involved and the Information Commissioner's Office, depending on both the volume and sensitivity of the personal data involved.
It is possible that a breach of patient confidentiality could result in you receiving complaints from the patients involved, a disciplinary or potentially a GMC investigation and any negative media attention that could attract.
If you do need to work on confidential documents at home, you should discuss how to do this safely with your local IT manager. You may need to take physical precautions such as ensuring your device is password protected, encrypted and stored under lock and key.
'...the movement of unencrypted person identifiable data held in electronic format should not be allowed in the NHS...'
You will need to be aware of, and adhere to, the relevant data protection legislation, and guidance produced by the GMC, for example Confidentiality: good practice in handling patient information (2017).
The Department of Health has said that 'the movement of unencrypted person identifiable data held in electronic format should not be allowed in the NHS' and 'wherever possible, person identifiable data should always be stored on a secure server.' You should familiarise yourself with and follow your trust information security policy.
This page was correct at publication on . Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.