A father, Jozef Dmowski, of a Polish girl has made an allegation that doctors and rescue workers refused to inform him of the location of his injured daughter, after she was involved in an accident, due to the fact that feared they would breach the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
His daughter was injured when the school bus that she was travelling in was involved in a collision with a truck near the village of Tenczyn in southern Poland. Mr Dmowski says that physicians and crisis team workers refused to advise him which hospital she had been taken to.
He told news reporters: “Our daughter called us to say she was not seriously injured and that we shouldn’t worry. But soon after her phone’s battery died. We were trying to reach the hospitals but it was a horribly difficult task to get any information”.
A Polish government official said, in a public statement, said it seemed the emergency team had made an “an erroneous and exaggerated interpretation of GDPR” and would ensure families were given access information about their relatives in similar incidents from now on.
There have been unconfirmed reports of hospital management teams removing doctors’ names from their consulting room doors to avoid patients’ illnesses being inadvertently revealed in a breach of GDPR.
Maciej Kawecki, director of the Data Management Department at Poland’s Ministry of Digitization, contacted the affected parents to tell them that the incident would be referred to the minister. He said: “I’m very sorry. I hope that everything is fine with your child and I send greetings and wishes for a speedy recovery. On behalf of the Ministry of Digitisation, I assure you that I will do my utmost care to make hospitals more sensitive to a more rational approach to the subject. Of course, it can not be that we get all the information about patients by phone, but it is possible to use methods that authenticate the caller as a parent.
“In many cases, the processing of such data is justified by the so-called protection of the vital interests of people, as mentioned in the GDPR.”
The bus in which she was travelling has 42 students and three teachers on board when the accident occurred on one of the only main roads in a mountainous area. The road was closed for a time period of 12 hours following the crash, causing enormous traffic jams.