Tonga’s Ministry of Health is investigating reports that details of a patient’s records were posted on Facebook.
A nurse in Ha’apai is at the centre of the investigation after information about a patient from Fotua was apparently posted on Facebook, the Kakalu ‘O Tonga newspaper reported this week.
The Kakalu quoted the Ministry’s CEO, Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola, as saying the case could be taken up with Police.
It is understood the person under investigation has deactivated her Facebook page and apologised to the patient’s family.
The Kakalu said the family of the patient was disappointed after they heard that medical information had been posted online.
Dr ‘Akau’ola reportedly said the investigation could be hindered by legal issues because the leak was made on social media.
He said if laws had been breached the nurse could be dismissed.
The Ministry’s head office in Tongatapu has treated the breach seriously and demanded its Ha’apai main office conduct an urgent investigation, the paper said.
A recent report on the state of the Tongan health system’s information systems by the Asian Development Bank said the kingdom’s legal, policy, and strategic framework did not reflect current technology developments.
The ADB said the kingdom needed a legal framework to safeguard sensitive patient data from unauthorised access, use or disclosure.
The ADB said the Public Health Act (1992) and the Births, Deaths, Marriages Registration Act 1926 needed to be updated and new laws drafted.
In 2016 RNZ reported the then Chief of Nursing Dr ‘Amelia Tu’ipulotu as saying 70 percent of nurses were yet to reach the national professional standard.
It quoted Dr Tu’ipulotu, who is now Minister of Health as saying a survey showed an urgent need to improve nursing standards.
The report infuriated the nurse community in Tonga.
However, the then Minister for Health, Hon. Saia Piukala, told Kaniva News at the time he was certain Dr Tu’ipulotu, did not intend to insult members of the profession.