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Portuguese Hospital Receives and Contests 400,000 € Fine for GDPR Infringement

On July 17, 2018, the Portuguese Supervisory Authority (“CNPD”) imposed a fine of 400.000 € on a hospital for infringement of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).  The decision has not been made public.  Earlier this week, the hospital publicly announced that it will contest the fine.

According to press reports, the CNPD carried out an investigation at the hospital which revealed that the hospital’s staff, psychologists, dietitians and other professionals had access to patient data through false profiles.  The profile management system appeared deficient – the hospital had 985 registered doctor profiles while only having 296 doctors.  Moreover, doctors had unrestricted access to all patient files, regardless of the doctor’s specialty.  The CNPD reportedly concluded that the hospital did not put in place appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect patient data.

In its defense, the hospital apparently indicated that it uses the IT system provided to public hospitals by the Portuguese Health Ministry.  The CNPD, however, decided that it was the hospital’s responsibility to ensure that the IT system it uses complies with the GDPR.

While Portugal has not “implemented” the GDPR yet, the CNPD applied the GDPR principles to this case and relied on the GDPR to determine the fine.  This is one of the highest fines imposed by the CNPD as of yet.  The current law allocates half of the fine to the CNPD budget – the future implementing law will likely contain a similar provision.

© 2020 Covington & Burling LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 299



About this Author

Anna Oberschelp de Meneses, Regulatory lawyer, Covington

Anna Sophia Oberschelp de Meneses is an associate in the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group.

Ms. Oberschelp de Meneses advises companies on European data protection law, with a focus on German and Portuguese privacy law.

32 2 549 5249
Kristof Van Quathern, Covington, data privacy attorney
Special Counsel

Kristof Van Quathem advises clients on data protection, data security and cybercrime matters in various sectors, and in particular in the pharmaceutical and information technology sector. Mr. Van Quathem has been specializing in this area for over fifteen years and covers the entire spectrum of advising clients on government affairs strategies concerning the lawmaking, to compliance advice on the adopted laws regulations and guidelines, and the representation of clients in non-contentious and contentious matters before data protection authorities.