OTTAWA - The Canadian Medical Association Journal has lashed out at Veterans Affairs Canada over the way it handles medical records.

The group published an editorial today demanding the federal government take immediate steps to restore confidence in the department after the privacy commissioner found the records of outspoken critic Sean Bruyea were used to smear him.

Dr. Paul Hebert, the journal's editor-in-chief, and deputy editor Barbara Sibbald said the case of the former intelligence officer as well as two other alleged privacy breaches will make veterans reluctant to seek treatment.

While the government has indicated the breach of Bruyea's privacy is "completely unacceptable," the editorial says, immediate action is required to restore public confidence.

Hebert said hospitals in Canada take privacy seriously and have stringent rules in place to safeguard patient records.

He said breaches are dealt with quickly and often punitively.