By Marlon Redding. Last Updated 2nd December 2022. Along with technological advancements in healthcare treatments themselves, there have been many changes to the way healthcare providers hold and store our personal data. This brings with it many responsibilities pertaining to the safe collection, storage and access of our personal data. But what happens if your data is breached? Could it cause you harm, and could you be eligible to claim medical data breach compensation?
If you’ve been the victim of a medical data breach in the UK, you could be eligible to make a medical data breach claim. This guide has been put together to provide information on what could constitute a breach of your medical data and the types of compensation you could claim.
Within the sections below, we explain who could be held responsible for a medical data breach, how it could happen and how it might affect you, both in the short and long-term. If you believe your data has been breached by a doctor, NHS trust, optician, private hospital or any other healthcare provider, we could help you. Not only could we offer a free case assessment, but we could also connect you with a legal professional who could help you claim medical data breach compensation from the responsible party. If you’d like to take advantage of our knowledge and experience, you can call us at any time on 0161 696 9685.
Jump To A Section
- A Guide To Claiming Compensation For A Medical Data Breach
- What Are Medical Data Breach Claims?
- How Do Data Breaches Happen?
- Reporting A Medical Data Breach To The ICO
- Who Could Medical And Healthcare Data Breach Claims Be Made Against?
- When Could You Claim For an NHS Data Breach?
- Medical Data Breach Claims Against Private Healthcare Providers
- How Could You Be Impacted By A Medical Data Breach?
- What Fines Have Been Issued By The ICO For Medical Data Breaches?
- How Will Compensation For My Medical Data Breach Claim Be Valued?
- What Forms Of Damages Could You Claim?
- No Win No Fee Claims For Medical Data Breach Compensation
- Talk To Our Team
- Quick Resources
Healthcare is moving into the digital age, and with more and more of our personal data being held on computers, its protection is a matter of huge importance. There are laws in place to protect your personal data, and NHS trusts, medical professionals and public and private healthcare providers should be mindful of these laws when they capture and store your information.
Previously data was protected under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), which is now the Data Protection Act 2018. We also have the General Data Protection Regulation. This sets out how to manage personal data.
What Happens If Your Data Is Breached?
If your data has been breached, it could affect you in a variety of different ways. You might worry about what someone could do with data that has been stolen, and it could cause you to suffer significant emotional distress. In addition to this, if someone gains access to your personal information, depending on what details they have, they could use it to apply for finance in your name, or even access your personal accounts, which could cause you financial harm. You may choose to take legal action to claim compensation if you have suffered harm due to a medical data breach.
This guide explains medical data breach claims in more detail. In the sections that follow, we explain the laws that protect you, how you could be affected by a data breach, and even give you some insight into how much you could claim.
According to the ICO, a data breach could include a situation where your data is:
- Subject to unauthorised access
- Subject to unauthorised disclosure
- Changed without your permission
Whether a data breach happens maliciously or accidentally, you could potentially claim medical data breach compensation.
There are various ways in which a data breach could happen. You could suffer a medical data breach due to:
- Human error – Someone might have sent your data to someone they shouldn’t have by mistake, for example
- A cyber attack – If someone gains access to a system via a cyber attack, your medical data could be breached
- A virus – A computer virus could cause damage to the computer or computer systems it infects, and this could cause a loss of data, or for data to be accessed and stolen.
- A hack – If someone gains unauthorised access to a computer or system that holds your data, this could constitute a breach.
- Negligence – If the organisation holding your information does not maintain their computer equipment, this could lead to loss of data.
If you have been the victim of a health or social care data breach, you may be wondering what to do about it. One course of action you could take could be to report the data breach to the ICO. The ICO has produced some advice on raising your concerns if you believe your data has been breached.
They advise you to approach the organisation who you believe has breached your data as soon as you possibly can, letting them know of your concerns. You should ask that they investigate the matter and describe how the breach has affected you. It would be wisest to do this in writing and make sure you have a record of having made contact.
If the organisation doesn’t respond, or their response is not adequate, you may be able to complain to the ICO. It would be wise to do this before 3 months have passed, as the ICO may not investigate if there’s been a delay in you informing them of a breach.
One thing we should mention is that reporting a medical data breach to the ICO doesn’t mean you cannot make a personal injury claim for medical data breach compensation at the same time. We’d be happy to help you start a claim if this is something you’re considering.
There are a number of entities that you could claim medical data breach compensation from, including:
- A private hospital
- An NHS hospital
- Private health care providers
- Individual healthcare professionals
- A GP
- A Dentist
- A Pharmacy
- An NHS trust
- An optician
You could make a claim if any of the above have mishandled or misused your data, either mistakenly or maliciously, or they have not protected it from unauthorised access and this has caused you to suffer in some way.
Generally, organisations are required to follow the principles set out in the UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act, including the NHS. A data breach may occur if a healthcare organisation fails to comply with the relevant legislation. For example, if an organisation was to share your personal data with a third party but you did not consent, you may have grounds for a valid data protection breach claim if you suffered psychological or financial harm as a result.
It is important to establish that you suffered harm or loss as a result of the personal data breach. For example, you may experience symptoms of anxiety due to a data breach involving your health data. Additionally, you may need time off work to deal with your anxiety, resulting in you enduring a loss of earnings.
If can provide evidence of any damage inflicted by a data protection breach, you may be able to make a claim. If you wish to make a claim, speak to our advisors for free, and they can check your eligibility.
Can I Sue The NHS For Breach Of Confidentiality?
If issues with data protection within the NHS lead to lost data, stolen data, or improperly distributed data, this could lead to you being able to claim for medical data breach compensation if you suffer as a consequence.
GPs, opticians, dentists and hospitals can operate as private healthcare providers. Like medical providers in the public sector, they will owe you a duty of care and, as an organisation, they may collect your personal data with a responsibility to safeguard it.
Generally, you have a time limit of 6 years to start a data breach compensation claim against such parties. However, the time limit for claims against public bodies is typically one year.
You can reach out to one of our advisers to see if you could speak to a data breach solicitor for information about your claim and if you are still within your time limit. Our advisers can also offer you more information about how to start a claim for a medical data breach and the compensation you could claim.
A medical data breach could affect you in various different ways and for a long time after your data has been lost, stolen, misused or mishandled. If personal information has fallen into the wrong hands, you could suffer financial damages by way of identity fraud, by applying for financial accounts in your name, or someone could gain access to your financial accounts and could potentially take money directly from those accounts.
You could be affected by a loss of privacy too – if someone has leaked sensitive medical data, this could cause a variety of issues. In addition to this, whether the data breach has come from your GP, dentist, optician, doctor or hospital, it could cause you emotional distress. If you suffer psychological harm, such as stress, anxiety or depression due to such a breach, you could claim medical data breach compensation.
You may be interested to know what ICO, GDPR fines in the UK have been issued to companies who have had a medical data breach. Here, we list just a few examples.
In 2015, a clinic in London which specialised in sexual health services mistakenly revealed the recipients’ email addresses of patients who had attended the HIV clinic, around 730 patients. The 56 Dean Street Clinic was fined £180,000 for the breach, which occurred when the patients were mistakenly sent a group email giving them one another’s name and email addresses.
In a similar incident, reported in 2019, 2000 patients of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust had their e-mail addresses exposed to each other when a gender identity clinic made the same mistake of sending a group e-mail to patients rather than blind copying them into a mail. While the details of any data breach fines for this 2019 breach are not yet known, the incident has been reported to the ICO, who could take severe action against them for such a serious breach.
The compensation you could receive for a medical data breach in the UK could depend on its seriousness and how it has affected you. If, as a result of a health care data breach, you’ve suffered emotional distress, your solicitor could help you to fight for compensation for the effects of a data breach on your mental health.
In a case heard in 2015, Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc  – Court of Appeal, the Court of Appeal Judge (Mr Justice Mitting) talked about the issue of assessing compensation for psychiatric and psychological injury in cases of data breaches. While addressing the issue, he said that personal injury caused by data breaches could be considered.
Calculating the extent of the psychiatric/psychological damage would involve assessment by a medical professional and their report could determine how much compensation you could receive for your claim. Below, we have illustrated how much compensation could be appropriate, according to the Judicial College Guidelines, for psychological harm.
|Psychiatric Damage||£51,460 to £108,620||Injuries in this bracket would be considered severe. There would be a marked impact on the injured party’s ability to cope with life, work and education, as well as relationships. They could be vulnerable in the future too. There would have been medical help sought but the prognosis would be extremely poor.|
|Psychiatric Damage||£17,900 to £51,460||Injuries in this bracket would be considered moderately severe. Impact on the injured party could be significant and similar to the bracket above but the prognosis would be more optimistic.|
|Psychiatric Damage||£5,500 to £17,900||Injuries in this bracket would be considered moderate, and would have considerably improved, or be expected to improve.|
|Psychiatric Damage||£1,440 to £5,500||The injured party’s ability to take on usual daily activities and sleep would be assessed, as well as the duration of suffering.|
|PTSD (Severe)||£56,180 to £94,470||Causing permanent effects. The injured party would not be able to function or work as they did before. The damage would affect many aspects of the injured party’s life.|
|PTSD (Moderately Severe)||£21,730 to £56,180||Causing significant disability that could see them affected for the foreseeable future. Prognosis could be better than the category above.|
|PTSD (Moderate)||£7,680 to £21,730||Continuing symptoms would not be grossly disabling and the injured party would have largely recovered.|
|PTSD (Less severe)||£3,710 to £7,680||Injured parties in this bracket would have achieved virtually a full recovery within one to two years.|
If you’re considering making a claim for medical data breach compensation, you might wonder what types of compensation you could be eligible for.
If you’re claiming for a medical data breach in the UK, you could be compensated for both material and non-material damages under GDPR if data protection laws have been broken. You could potentially also claim if:
- You have suffered emotional distress – essentially, this could include anxiety and anguish. If you have lost sleep, felt ill, confused anxious or stressed, a claim for emotional distress could go some way towards compensating you for this.
- You have suffered a loss of privacy
- You have suffered financial losses
- The breach has led to identity theft
It is worth considering the fact that compromised data could present an ongoing issue. Getting a lawyer to help you fight for medical data breach compensation for both the immediate and ongoing issues a data breach has caused could, therefore, be a wise decision.
While you could attempt to make a medical data breach compensation claim alone, you may find it easier and less stressful to use the services of a legal professional when making such a claim. A solicitor could help to take the paperwork off your shoulders and could negotiate the maximum compensation settlement possible for your claim.
Making a No Win No Fee claim would require you to sign a document known as a Conditional Fee Agreement, agreeing to pay your lawyer a success fee if they were able to get a compensation settlement for you. If your lawyer didn’t manage to get you any medical data breach compensation, you would not have to pay them the success fee. You would not be asked to cover their costs involved in pursuing the claim either. Any success fee you would be asked to pay your lawyer would be legally capped, and would usually represent a small percentage of your total compensation payout.
You would not have to pay any fees upfront to begin a claim under these terms. If you’d like to learn more about making a No Win No Fee medical data breach claim, you can contact us at any time. We could connect you with a solicitor that works to these terms.
If you’d like to claim medical data breach compensation and you’re considering finding a lawyer to help you make a claim, we could help to connect you with one. We could also check your eligibility to make a medical data breach claim and answer any questions you might have. You can reach our expert team:
- By telephone: 0161 696 9685
- Via e-mail [email protected]
- By using our contact form
- Or using our Live Chat service.
ICO Information On Claiming– The ICO offers some insight into claiming compensation for a data breach.
What Happens To Data Post-Brexit?– Guidelines covering personal data post-Brexit can be found here.
How Much Of My Compensation Do I Keep? – This guide explains about how much of your compensation settlement you could receive.
Success Fees – This explains more about No Win No Fee claims and how much of a success fee your personal injury solicitor could ask for.
General Information On Personal Injury Claims – Here you can find out more about making a personal injury claim.
Guide by JS
Published by MA.