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

April 15, May 3, June 7, 13, 20 & 25

For Primary Care clinics and FHTs

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

Speaking event

April 10, 2019

At Osgoode Hall

Kate speaks at the Osgoode Health Law Certificate workshop on privacy for health care organizations. More details...

Primary care webinars: Contracts & Communications

April 11 and May 2, 2019, 12 noon

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our April webinar is on employee contracts, and in May our title is communication faux pas.

Full details of the 2019 webinar series and registration here.

Privacy Officer training

April 30 through June 4, 2019

Kate’s specialist training course for Privacy Officers in health organizations.

Open to all health Privacy Officers, as well as those hoping to become Privacy Officers. Full details and registration for Privacy Officer training next spring here...

Advanced Privacy Officer training

June 18, 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!

April 3, 2019 12 noon - 1 pm and
May 1, 2019 9 - 10 am

Free webinar - 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

Webinar recording now available! Topics covered: - Health privacy law update - When do children make their own info… https://t.co/crUhW2tgRn

about 1 hour ago


contact details

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

(416) 855 9557

.