The personal health information of about 1,000 patients in Saskatchewan was faxed to the wrong numbers, according to a report by the province’s privacy commissioner.

The investigation involved 20 separate files handled by 10 trustees in eight health regions.

Nearly all the privacy breaches involved faxing features with electronic medical records, not a stand-alone fax machine. In most cases, faxes containing personal medical records were faxed to outdated physician numbers in the provincial radiology information system.

Privacy commissioner Gary Dickson says adequate safeguards weren’t in place to prevent misdirected faxes. He also found that, for the most part, trustees did not properly investigate the incidents when they occurred.

In a 2010 report, Dickson raised the issue of fax-related privacy breaches and made recommendations on how health regions, doctor’s offices and pharmacies could improve their policies and procedures.

“Given my office’s experience in 2013 with fax-related privacy breaches…it appears that my optimism based on the 2010 report recommendations may have been misplaced,” Dickson said in his latest report.

“In discussions with trustees about our recommendations from the 2010 report, I often heard that the problems I had identified were specific to fax machines and that as we moved to medical records and the provincial electronic health record, the problem with misdirected faxes should be short lived.

“My experience is that inadequate policy, procedures and lack of training renders even these new technologies susceptible to the same kinds of problems experienced with the more primitive fax machine.”