A government-run dental clinic has lost an appointment book that contains the personal information of about 383 patients.

The Department of Health revealed the incident on Thursday, saying that the Li Po Chun Dental Clinic in Tai Kok Tsui had lost information related to bookings made from January to June 2015. The information included names and dates of appointments, and some entries may have contained patients’ identity card numbers and dates of birth.

Lee Po Chun Dental Clinic
Lee Po Chun Dental Clinic. Photo: Google Maps screenshot.

“The [department] is very concerned about the incident and will conduct a thorough investigation with a view to avoiding recurrence of similar incidents. We have also stepped up efforts in reminding staff members of the importance of protection of personal data and privacy,” a spokesperson said.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) said on Thursday that it had started a compliance check after receiving a report of the incident. The Department of Health was also conducting its own investigation into whether any rules were broken.

The PCPD said that medical organisations will collect, process, use and store a large amount of sensitive personal information, and should therefore comply with higher standards of data management and security.

The loss was first discovered last Thursday, and the PCPD complimented the Department of Health for reporting the incident promptly.

Department of Health
Department of Health. File

The Department of Health also reported the incident to the police and apologised to the patients affected.

In 2016, a laptop computer containing the personal data of more than 3,600 patients went missing at the University of Hong Kong’s Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine. The computer contained names, identity card numbers, telephone numbers, diagnoses and medication lists, and was suspected to be stolen from an office at Queen Mary Hospital.

There were also cases in 2013 and 2014 where patient information stored on USB flash drives were lost, affecting 68 patients at the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital and 92 patients at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

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Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.