24.05.2018 - Survey results visible shortly before publication

(sp) Following a survey on satisfaction in 198 acute-care hospitals coordinated by Swiss Post, the survey results became visible to hospitals on a password-protected online platform shortly before the official publication date. Instead of initially only being able to view their own results, hospitals were also able to see those of other institutions. Information was accessed by five hospitals during the period in question, although no data was downloaded. Sensitive personal or patient data was not affected at any time. Swiss Post immediately resolved the problem and took all the necessary measures to avoid any similar errors in future.
Swiss Post is coordinating a national survey on patient satisfaction in acute-care hospitals in Switzerland on behalf of the Swiss National Association for Quality Development in Hospitals and Clinics (ANQ). The survey consisted of six questions such as: “How well organized was your discharge from hospital?” or “Did you have the opportunity to ask questions?” Each hospital’s own results from this anonymous patient survey are made available to participating hospitals on a protected online platform before the official publication date. The results are then published by ANQ transparently for each hospital – together with a national comparison report.
Following a technical modification to the online platform on 26 March 2018, an error occurred in granting access authorizations. As a result, hospitals which took part in the survey between 8 a.m. on Monday, 26 March and 11 a.m. on Tuesday, 27 March were not only able to see their own results, but could also consult anonymized customer feedback about other hospitals. However, no data was downloaded during this period.
The survey and its results have nothing to do with electronic patient records and the survey did not contain any personal data about patients. At no time was it possible to access patient data, the security of which was guaranteed at all times. This data is saved on a different system and is completely separate from the patient satisfaction survey.
The mistake was due to incorrect handling, not a system error. Swiss Post immediately corrected the access authorizations and took measures to avoid any similar errors in future. The security of confidential data has top priority at Swiss Post. It has notified all the partners concerned and apologized for the error.