Can You Sue A Hospital For A Data Breach Involving Your Personal Data?

A breach of medical data can have serious consequences. Sensitive personal information regarding your health could be exposed, as well as the potential for financial losses. If your personal information has been compromised, you may be wondering, “Can you sue a hospital for a data breach?”.

If your personal information has been breached, we start this guide off by explaining what criteria your case must meet to be able to claim medical data breach compensation, including who you may be able to make your claim against. To help you gain a clearer idea of when you may have a valid case, we also provide you with some examples of how medical data breaches could happen.

Following a personal data breach, you could take certain steps to help increase your chances of receiving compensation; we explain these steps. We also explain the different forms of harm you could be compensated for and provide you with some guideline data breach compensation examples. The final section looks at the type of No Win No Fee agreement offered by the data breach solicitors on our panel and how this can benefit claimaints making data breach compensation claims.

To talk to our advisors for free legal advice or to get an assessment of your potential claim’s validity:

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Browse This Guide

  1. Can You Sue A Hospital For A Data Breach?
  2. How Could A Medical Data Breach Happen?
  3. What Can You Do After A Hospital Data Breach?
  4. How Much Compensation For A Medical Records Data Breach?
  5. Can You Sue For A Hospital Data Breach On A No Win No Fee Basis?
  6. Read More To See If You Can Claim For A Data Breach

Can You Sue A Hospital For A Data Breach?

Any information that can identify you is considered personal data. This includes your name, mobile number and home address. Certain personal data is considered as special category data. This is because the information is sensitive and, therefore, requires additional protection. This includes data regarding your medical and sexual health, religious beliefs and political beliefs.

A hospital could hold and process various personal data about you. They therefore need to abide by the rules and regulations set out by the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). Together, the UK GDPR and the DPA form data protection laws. If the hospital failed to adhere to these laws, this could result in a data breach that affects your personal data.

A personal data breach is defined in general terms as a security incident that impacts the availability, integrity or confidentiality of personal data. This definition comes from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s independent body for upholding information rights. Data breaches can occur due to both human error and deliberate actions.

If you have confirmation that your personal data has been breached, you may be wondering, ‘Can you sue a hospital for a data breach?’. In order to have a valid claim, your case must meet the following criteria:

  1. The breach was caused by the hospital’s failure to follow data protection laws.
  2. Your personal data was affected in this breach.
  3. You experienced psychological distress, financial losses or both as a result of the personal data breach.

Who Can You Make Medical Data Breach Claims Against?

Medical data breach claims are made against your healthcare provider. Regardless of whether they are a public or private healthcare provider, they must still adhere to data protection laws when processing personal data.

Provided that your case still meets the eligibility requirements listed above, you could make a claim against:

  • A hospital.
  • Pharmacy.
  • GP surgery.
  • Walk-in centre.

These are only a few examples. To get a more personalised answer to the question, “Can you sue a hospital for a data breach?” contact our advisory team today. You can reach an advisor at any time via the contact details provided above.

How Could A Medical Data Breach Happen?

A medical data breach can occur in many different circumstances. Healthcare providers process a lot of data regarding their patients such as their contact information and information regarding their health.

As we previously aforementioned, a data breach could be the result of human error or deliberate actions. Some examples of how a medical data breach could occur include:

  • Mistakes by hospital administrators result in your medical records being sent to the wrong email address of another patient with a similar name.
  • Details concerning your cancer diagnosis were sent to the wrong postal address, despite the hospital having your new and current address on file.
  • The hospital failed to update its cybersecurity measures, allowing online hackers to access and steal multiple patients’ medical records and private information.

A stack of folders containing the medical records of multiple patients

Examples of Medical Data Breaches

An example of a hospital data breach was when personal and some personally sensitive information on more than 22,000 patients was released in two breaches in 2020 and 2021. The information that was compromised was regarding cancer and maternity patients at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge.

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust stated that the details shared included hospital numbers, names and some medical information. It also identified women who have had miscarriages and terminations.

The chief executive of this trust apologised for both breaches and stated that the breach occurred because patient information was mistakenly included in Excel spreadsheets in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requests.

Another example of a medical data breach involved The Hospital Group, the UK’s leading specialist cosmetic surgery and weight loss group, in 2020. A group of cyber attackers, known as REvil claimed to have accessed 900 gigabytes of patient photographs and other personal data. They also threatened to publish these patients’ before and after photographs, among other details.

The Hospital Group states that they have emailed all of their customers informing them of the cyber-attack and will contact individuals who may have had further personal details compromised. They also state that they have informed the ICO of the breach.

If your personal information has been involved in a medical data breach and you are wondering, ‘Can you sue a hospital for a data breach?’ you can contact our advisors.


What Can You Do After A Hospital Data Breach?

Following a breach of your personal data, there are certain steps you could take to help you with claiming compensation. These steps include:

  • Obtaining proof that your personal data was breached: Following a data breach, the organisation responsible for the breach must inform you if your personal data has been compromised if they believe your rights or freedom may be at risk. This could be in the form of an email or letter. This correspondence could then be used as evidence in your claim to prove what personal data of yours was breached.
  • Report the breach to the ICO: You can report a data breach to the ICO within 3 months of your last meaningful communication with the organisation responsible for the breach. Should the ICO then decide to investigate this breach, their findings could be used as evidence within your claim.
  • Gather evidence of your financial losses: For example, if unknown charges were made to your credit card, your credit card statements could help prove this. Payslips could also help prove a loss of earnings.
  • Gather evidence of your psychiatric harm: If you are suffering from stress, depression or anxiety due to a data breach, your medical records or a diagnosis confirmation letter from a psychiatrist could help prove the psychological harm you have suffered.

To inquire further about how you prove your data breach claim, or the steps you should take after being notified a data breach has occurred, talk to our advisors today.

How Much Compensation For A Medical Records Data Breach?

Now that we’ve answered the question, “Can you sue a hospital for a data breach?”, this section examines how compensation is calculated during a claim. If your claim succeeds, you could be compensated for your material and non-material damage.

Non-material damage refers to the psychological distress caused by the exposure of your personal data, whereas material damage refers to monetary losses. We’ll examine material damage in more detail later in the section.

Psychiatric harm caused by a data breach can vary widely. From general stress and anxiety to serious psychiatric harm and post-traumatic stress disorder in the more severe cases. Those tasked with calculating the value of your non-material damage in your claim can make reference to the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) in conjunction with your medical evidence to assign a possible value.

The JCG publication contains a broad range of guideline compensation brackets for various different injuries. You can see the brackets for psychological injury in the table here. Please take note that the top entry is not from the JCG.

Compensation Table

The information in this table has been provided for guidance purposes only. 

Type of HarmSeverityGuideline Compensation Value
Very Severe Psychiatric Harm In Addition To Significant Material DamageVery SevereUp to £500,000 and above
Psychiatric Damage GenerallySevere (a)£66,920 to £141,240
Moderately Severe (b)£23,270 to £66,920
Moderate (c)£7,150 to £23,270
Less Severe (d)£1,880 to £7,150
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderSevere (a)£73,050 to £122,850
Moderately Severe (b)£28,250 to £73,050
Moderate (c)£9,980 to £28,250
Less Severe (d)£4,820 to £9,980

Material Damage In Data Breach Claims

As we touched on briefly above, any monetary costs associated with having your data exposed during a personal data breach is referred to as material damage.

Some possible examples of material damage you could claim compensation for include:

  • Lost income: A significant psychological injury could leave you unable to work for an extended period. You could be compensated for your lost earnings during this time period.
  • Relocation costs: If your address is exposed during the data breach, you may need to relocate due to stress or fear for your safety. This is a substantial expense you could be compensated for
  • Impact on your credit score: If your bank or credit card details have been stolen, unauthorised persons could make fraudulent purchases using your cards. This could have a substantial negative impact on your credit score, which in turn could impact your personal finances.

Our advisors can provide an answer to question, “Can you sue a hospital for a data breach?” They can also assess the eligibility of your medical data breach claim and provide you with a free valuation.

Can You Sue For A Hospital Data Breach On A No Win No Fee Basis?

The data breach solicitors on our panel are all highly experienced legal professionals. By choosing to instruct one of them to represent you, you will benefit from the years of knowledge and experience they have in this field. They can also help you with gathering evidence to support your claim and negotiation your compensation settlement as part of their services. You can contact our advisors to discuss the eligibility of your case and see whether you may be able to work with one of the solicitors on our panel.

If our team decide your potential claim is valid, a solicitor from our panel could offer their services under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). This type of No Win No Fee contract benefits you as a claimant greatly as there will be no upfront fee for the solicitor to begin working on your case, nor will you have to pay for this work during the actual claim. Furthermore, you will not pay a fee for your solicitor’s work if the claim does not succeed.

Should your claim be successful, you will receive a data breach compensation payout. The solicitor will deduct a percentage of your compensation for their success fee. The percentage that can be taken as a success fee is limited by the law.

To see if you can sue a hospital for a data breach with a No Win No Fee solicitor from our panel, you can contact our advisors today. They can also offer you free advice for your case and answer any questions you may have about the claiming process:

A solicitor making notes at his desk while his client asks "can you sue a hospital for a data breach?"

Read More To See If You Can Claim For A Data Breach

You can read some of our other data breach guides by following these links:

We have also provided these external resources for additional guidance:

We’d like to thank you for reading our guide and hope we have adequately answered the question, ‘Can you sue a hospital for a data breach?’ You can talk to our advisors for more data breach guidance at any time. Our team can also assess your eligibility to start a claim free of charge. Get in touch today using the contact information provided above.