I’m Kate Dewhirst.

My team and I write about legal issues affecting healthcare in Canada.

Kate Dewhirst Health Law - bringing the law to life. Meet Kate (in 13 seconds)

Does your healthcare team know what a privacy breach looks or sounds like?

Posted by

Your privacy policy likely requires all staff members to “report any privacy breach” to the Privacy Officer.

But do your team members know what a privacy breach looks like or sounds like?  They can’t report if they don’t know what it means.

Here are some examples you can include in your training or policies to bring the meaning of “privacy breach” to life:

  • The electronic systems are hacked and client information is made public
  • An unencrypted laptop (or USB key, back-up hard drive or other portable device) with client information saved on the hard drive is stolen
  • Client information is recycled or thrown in the garbage and not shredded
  • Client information is given to the media without an individual’s consent
  • Client takes a picture of other clients’ information
  • A team member sends an Excel spreadsheet with client information to a help desk at a bank (autofill in email auto-corrected to the wrong email address)
  • A team member takes a picture or makes an audio or video recording of a client without consent
  • A team member looks at and makes a copy of an ex-spouse’s client record to use in divorce proceedings
  • A team member posts client information to personal social media account without consent
  • A student looks at client information on a self-initiated education project without being assigned to work with that information and without specific authorization for an approved educational exercise
  • A team member uses client-identifiable data to do unauthorized research or program planning
  • A team member uses another team member’s password to do work as a workaround
  • A team member is a fan of a celebrity client and looks up information for the celebrity’s address or health conditions
  • A team member makes a copy of an ex-spouse’s health record to use against them
  • Team members discuss clients in hallways and lunchrooms and other clients overhear (even colleagues overhear)
  • Team members release information to another health care provider when a client has said they don’t want that provider to know
  • Team members release information to a spouse or parent or child when the client doesn’t want that family member to know

BONUS TIP: Ask team members to report “complaints”, “incidents” and “potential” breaches – not just actual breaches.

If you enjoyed this article please share it:

Previous and next posts from Kate:

Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!
the first Wednesday of every month

Free webinars - advance registration needed

Whether you're an experienced privacy officer or new in the field, pick Kate’s brain for free for an hour, in this live webinar. No charge, but you’ll need to register in advance.

Health Privacy Officer Foundations training
April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18, 25 2022

For Privacy Officers within healthcare organizations.

This course focuses on how to become a more confident privacy officer and gives you the tools to document your privacy program. Full details and registration here...

Join the Shush: a collective of health privacy officers
Annual membership 2022

For Privacy Officers within healthcare organizations

This is an annual membership program that takes theory into practice and tackles real life scenarios to build Privacy Officer skills.
Full details and registration here.

Primary care webinars: Employment Law Update & Legal Issues for EDs and Board members

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our February program will NEW TOPIC address mental health supports for leaders (with Christine Burych) and in March we discuss employment contracts.
Full details of the 2022 webinar series and registration here.

Team Privacy Training Events
January 13, 26, February 2

For Primary Care clinics, Hospitals, Community Agencies, Mental Health Teams, Public Health Units, School Boards, Police departments

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

Ontario Hospital Association Professional Staff Credentialing Toolkit

2nd Edition is now available for managing physicians, dentists, midwives and nurse practitioners in hospitals Read here...

Free summary of all PHIPA IPC decisions

Want to read privacy breach stories to learn how to improve your work? We have summarized all the Information and Privacy Commissioner's health privacy decisions for you Download here...

Kate Dewhirst Health Law

Kate says:

My mission is bringing the law to life. I make legal theory understandable, accessible and fun! I’m available and love to work for all organizations in the healthcare sector across Ontario and beyond.

Subscribe to my mailing list and keep up to date with news:

Latest Tweets

New decision of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario for health privacy. And it is a doozy!… https://t.co/HUrtQgoosq

about 6 hours ago

Join The Shush, my community for Privacy Officers in the healthcare sector. Develop knowledge, skills and judgment,… https://t.co/UUnuBt5TXt

about 10 hours ago

Years ago, I sat in coroner’s inquests and listened to testimony of health care workers after the tragic deaths of… https://t.co/Kt37qOAVcp

04:30 PM Jan 19th

contact details

P.O. Box 97010 Roncesvalles
Toronto Ontario M6R 3B3

(416) 855 9557