Confidential Patient Correspondence Given to Kindergarten Kids in Zagreb… as Drawing Paper

Total Croatia News

Screenshot from 2018-03-03 21-01-07.png

A confidential memo from the Croatian Health Insurance Fund regarding gender reassignment ended up in a kindergarten in Zagreb, along with the patient’s name and address

A couple of years ago, I was working as a substitute teacher of a foreign language class in an elementary school. My students were mostly first graders, and one of the most efficient ways to expand their vocabulary was to let them get creative: I would often encourage them to pick up some coloured pencils and draw their take on whatever topic we were covering in class.

It’s a common practice in many Croatian kindergartens and schools to keep waste paper in stock, which is then reused as drawing paper by kids and later sent for recycling. We’re mostly talking about old memos, random statistical data and other similar reports printed on one side, the other being blank and used by pupils to practice their art skills.

One day, as I was handing out papers to kids, I dropped one on accident and as I was picking it up, I noticed the back was printed with an HIV-related survey involving a lot of… detailed questions. Not the most appropriate choice of drawing material to be handed out to first graders, I thought, and not exactly the type of vocabulary we should be learning in class. To be fair, my feisty bunch had such short attention spans, they couldn’t finish writing a single sentence without getting bored halfway through and turning to some other, more exciting feat, so there was no real reason to worry about them expanding their limited knowledge on STDs. But still… how does that even end up in elementary schools?

As it turns out, it can be worse.

As reported by Jutarnji on March 3, 2018, a child enrolled in a certain kindergarten in Zagreb took home one of their drawings to proudly show it to their parents, but the back of the paper left a stronger impression than the kid’s drawing skills. While one side now boasted a cute picture of a bee with blue wings, the other contained an official memo of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZO), written in May 2017 as an answer to an insured patient’s inquiry – regarding a sex change.

Screenshot from 2018-03-03 21-01-07.png

Jutarnji / screenshot

The content shows the person inquired whether a mastectomy procedure is covered by health insurance if the patient is undergoing gender reassignment. As a reply, the memo states the procedure is only covered by insurance in cases when it’s medically indicated, and advises the patient to contact the Ministry of Health for more information. To make the matter even worse, the name and surname of the patient in question are clearly displayed in the upper right corner of the memo, along with their personal address.

It’s unlikely that any child of kindergarten age would end up carefully studying such a document, so again, there’s no reason to worry about their young impressionable minds. The more important question to ask here – how exactly was it possible for such sensitive, confidential documentation to leak from one of the biggest public institutions?

Contacted by Jutarnji, HZZO expressed remorse regarding this astonishing display of negligence, issued an apology and announced an official investigation had been launched since. “As a rule, HZZO destroys any documentation which is not intended for delivery to certain legal and natural persons. In this particular case, the memo was not signed by an [HZZO] official, meaning it is an invalid document which has not been posted by the institution. We will definitely look into this case and do everything in our power to establish how the omission happened and who was the person responsible. HZZO has already taken every measure so an incident of this sort would not happen again”, the institution stated, adding they have never before had a case of confidential personal information released to the public.

The Croatian Personal Data Protection Agency has announced they’re planning to look into the case as well. The Personal Data Protection Law prescribes fines for persons responsible for mishandling confidential personal data in amounts ranging from 5.000 to 40.000 kuna.

It’s not yet clear how the official memo ended up in a kindergarten – all things considered, it might be possible for more policy holders to have their personal information scribbled on by young creatives as we speak. You can’t trust anyone these days, can you?


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment