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)

Category: Long-term care



Health Privacy Update: New class action certified in Ontario after privacy breach at a hospital

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Just when you thought it was safe … a new class action was recently certified after a health privacy breach at a hospital in Ontario. Here’s what every health Privacy Officer needs to know. Stewart v. Demme and William Osler Health System (2020) “The central question … is whether a privacy violation can be “highly… Read more »


Patients do not understand their privacy rights – it’s our job to explain them

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It’s not enough for health care organizations to respect patient privacy rights.  I believe we have an obligation to help our patients understand those rights and activate them. There is a definite power imbalance between health care providers and patients when it comes to their understanding of privacy. Patients (and their caregivers) don’t receive a… Read more »


Update: No cameras allowed inside health examination rooms

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The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) just released a new blog titled: “Cameras in Doctors’ Exam Rooms? Not in Ontario” and released Decision 98. In this decision, a media outlet notified the IPC that a cosmetic surgery clinic was using surveillance cameras in examination rooms. The clinic had 24 security cameras recording continuously… Read more »


Is an access-only parent entitled to their children’s health information?

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In a new Decision 96 of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC), a father who had access-only (not custody) of his children wanted a certain information from a health care provider. The health care provider refused to confirm or deny they had information about the children. The father complained to the IPC. The… Read more »


Missing Persons in Ontario – new police powers and the impact of the new law on healthcare providers

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On July 1st a new law came into effect: the Missing Persons Act, 2018. Healthcare organizations and providers need to know about this new law because there may be new documentation from police you will need to review. The police now have more powers when investigating missing persons in Ontario. Missing Person A “missing person”… Read more »


Does your organization need a “back-up” Privacy Officer?

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Yup – you do! I have heard from a lot of healthcare teams recently that they have been struggling with vacation, sick days, leaves of absence and unexpected departures from the Privacy Office.  When you rely on one person in your organization to deal with all the privacy issues, you can feel vulnerable when that… Read more »


How to respond to people behaving badly without making things worse

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I recently witnessed a dispute within my faith community. One congregant was accused of violent and highly inappropriate activity. The synagogue struggled to respond. Things escalated. People took sides. Positions became entrenched. There was a mixture of genuine concern, mythology, innuendo, hyperbole, valid issues to be addressed and unsubstantiated issues that needed to be cleared… Read more »


Don’t make these 3 mistakes when processing requests for access to health records – New IPC decision 93

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A patient wants a copy of their health record. You give them your organization’s form to fill out before you give them a copy. What are you allowed to ask on that form? If your questions are not all answered, are you allowed to  send back the access request as “incomplete”? That’s the subject of… Read more »


Digital hygiene saves lives! New IPC guidelines

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In healthcare we often repeat that “hand hygiene saves lives” – well so too does digital hygiene. What is digital hygiene? Digital hygiene is a term of art used in the technology and cyber security field to describe positive practices to protect digital information from loss, theft, and unauthorized use, disclosure, modification or destruction. How… Read more »


Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events
February 12, 19, 26, 27, Mar 2, 9, 11, 24, 27

For Primary Care clinics, Hospitals, Community Agencies and Children’s Aid

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

Speaking event March 25, 2020

Osgoode Professional Development – Health Law Certificate

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

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

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our March webinar is on questions to ask your insurer and the April program is on changes to pregnant employees' positions.
Full details of the 2020 webinar series and registration here.

Health Privacy Officer training
April 28, 2020

For Privacy Officers within healthcare organisations.

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...

Osgoode Health Privacy 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...

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!
March 4 (cancelled) but back April 1

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.

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.

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