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New IPC health privacy decision #76 – reasonable search at a doctor’s office

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The IPC just released decision #76.

Bottom Line: There is no change to your duties as a health information custodian. This decision is entirely consistent with other decisions on the topic of reasonable search and a patient’s right of access to their records of personal health information. 

In this case, a patient requested access to her health record held by her doctor. The doctor kept paper records. The doctor found the patient’s record and copied it in its entirety.  The patient felt the record was incomplete and made an access complaint to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.

The patient alleged that her record was incomplete because there were missing pages and felt that the doctor should have additional records.

The physician explained that certain additional pages mentioned in the health record for certain documents would not have been included in the chart if they did not contain health information (such as cover pages to faxes or second or third pages of external documents that did not include any relevant information). The physician also checked her new electronic medical record to see if there was a record for the patient, although the patient had not received care from the doctor after the physician switched to the new system.

The IPC dismissed the complaint and concluded the physician had completed a reasonable search. The IPC did not require the physician to take any further action and confirmed that the physician had acted appropriately.


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