Munich (dpa) - According to a report by Bayerischer Rundfunk, sensitive medical data from several million patients worldwide have landed on openly accessible servers in the network.

In Germany, more than 13,000 data sets are affected by patients, in more than half are also medical images such as breast cancer screening, spine images and X-rays included: they were still accessible until last week and came from at least five different server locations. The majority of the data are from patients in the Ingolstadt area and from Kempen in North Rhine-Westphalia.

According to research by the BR with the US investigative platform ProPublica, the images and other patient data were stored on unsecured servers. According to this, 16 million datasets will be openly online in about 50 countries, from Brazil via Turkey to India. Patients from the USA are particularly affected. "For a single supplier of radiological examinations alone, more than one million data sets of patients were available, according to a report by ProPublica," the report said.

It is reported that there has not been a single major data leak but a variety of unprotected servers. The expert for information security Dirk Schrader, world-wide more than 2300 computers found, on which the data records were open.

The data were often images derived from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Two-dimensional and three-dimensional images of the patient's body are created in the MRI tube. These images would be sent from the devices to a special server, the BR reported. The system will be used for image archiving, a so-called "Picture Archiving and Communication System" (PACS). Also X-rays and images from computed tomography landed on these servers.

The Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, Kelber, spoke of a "devastating first impression". According to current knowledge, two hospitals are affected in Germany, said Kelber the dpa. It must now be clarified whether possibly also third party providers are responsible. It is not excluded that there will be large fines, said Kelber.

Report Bavarian Radio