I’m Kate Dewhirst.

I’m a lawyer who writes 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

Team Privacy Training Events

September 17, September 24, 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

Kate joins the faculty for this training event. More details...

Primary care webinars: Contracts & Communications

September 5 and October 3, 2019, 12 noon

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our September webinar is about understanding contracts you may be asked to sign, and in Octber our title is Managing incapacity in the workplace.

Full details of the 2019 webinar series 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 ...

Advanced Privacy Officer training

December 10, 2019

For experienced Privacy Officers within healthcare organisations.

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...

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!

August 7 and September 4, 2019, 10-11am EST

Free webinars - advance registration needed

Whether you're an experience 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.

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

The Biggest Mistake Health Teams Make When Receiving Privacy Concerns. Claim your free privacy officer training vid… https://t.co/RKnmq5OdCU

about 20 hours ago

[Starts JAN 20] Globally, healthcare accounted for more privacy breaches than any other industry in 2018.… https://t.co/coT04cQ3E1

08:01 AM Aug 18th

contact details

901 King Street West Suite 400 East Tower
Toronto Ontario M5V 3H5

(416) 855 9557

.