I’m Kate Dewhirst.

I’m a lawyer who writes about legal issues affecting healthcare in Canada

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Health Privacy Update: New access decision of the IPC

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The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario just issued decision 84, which is a new access decision.

Bottom Line: This decision is consistent with other decisions of the IPC and does not require a change to practice.

In this case, a patient of a hospital was concerned that hospital staff were inappropriately viewing her record. The hospital conducted an audit and then additional audits on request. The patient asked for the results of the audit and asked for a “lockbox” for her record. The hospital provided the patient with a copy of the audit results and implemented the lockbox directive. The patient complained to the IPC.

The IPC found the hospital acted in accordance with the privacy legislation. The hospital responded to the access request for copies of the audit results. The complainant’s health information was used appropriately by the hospital and was not improperly disclosed. The complaint was dismissed.

Don’t let my summary fool you. This was a complicated case with a comprehensive decision – 22 pages. That’s significant since most IPC decisions are not half as long. The IPC described in detail the results of the audits and the analysis of why hospital staff were entitled to view or use the records. This case provides a good overview of the rights of access and the steps necessary to respond to access requests.


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Team Privacy Training Events
October 16, October 24 and November 21

For Primary Care clinics, Children’s Aid and FHTs

Kate trains health professionals from many more primary care organizations how being privacy-respectful can improve therapeutic relationships. More details...

Speaking event October 23, 2019

Osgoode Professional Development – Mental health Certificate

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Primary care webinars: Managing Incapacity & Consent to Treatment

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our October webinar is about managing incapacity, and the November title is Consent to Treatment.
Full details of the 2020 webinar series and registration here.

Advanced Privacy Officer training
December 10, 2019

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This one day training course focuses on how to handle difficult privacy situations using real-life (but anonymized) case studies and role-play. Full details and registration here...

Privacy Officer training
January 20 & 27 and February 3,10 & 18, 2020

Kate is the program chair for the Osgoode Certificate in Privacy in Healthcare.

This program explores the range of privacy interests that must be protected in the day-to-day treatment of patients, the development of information systems and the creation of institutional policies. More details...

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October 2, November 6 and December 4

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Kate Dewhirst Health Law

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