Confidentiality of health information is an important aspect of the physician patient relationship. The use of digital medical records has made data much more accessible. To prevent data leakage, many countries have created regulations regarding medical data accessibility. These regulations require a unique user ID for each medical staff member, and this must be protected by a password, which should be kept undisclosed by all means.
We performed a four-question Google Forms-based survey of medical staff. In the survey, each participant was asked if he/she ever obtained the password of another medical staff member. Then, we asked how many times such an episode occurred and the reason for it.
A total of 299 surveys were gathered. The responses showed that 220 (73.6%) participants reported that they had obtained the password of another medical staff member. Only 171 (57.2%) estimated how many time it happened, with an average estimation of 4.75 episodes. All the residents that took part in the study (45, 15%) had obtained the password of another medical staff member, while only 57.5% (38/66) of the nurses reported this.
The use of unique user IDs and passwords to defend the privacy of medical data is a common requirement in medical organizations. Unfortunately, the use of passwords is doomed because medical staff members share their passwords with one another. Strict regulations requiring each staff member to have it’s a unique user ID might lead to password sharing and to a decrease in data safety.