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


Doctors read Humboldt Broncos’ health records: privacy breaches undermine public trust

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In April 2018, Canadians came together from coast to coast to coast to grieve and support each other when we learned a bus was hit in Saskatchewan tragically killing 16 young hockey players and seriously injuring many of their teammates. The Humboldt Broncos story made international news and reminded us all of the fragility of… Read more »


Health Privacy Update: new correction request decision of the IPC

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In health privacy decision 81 of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, a hospital was asked to make a correction to a discharge summary. The complainant wanted certain words written into the discharge summary “I am going home into the care of my parents’ because I live in [their] house” to reflect what he… Read more »


Health Privacy Update: Complainant does not get 2 kicks at the can

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In decision 80 of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, the wife of a deceased patient was concerned that a hospital doctor wrongly shared her husband’s health information by speaking to a third party about the care he received and that the hospital failed to meet its privacy obligations.  These concerns were raised with… Read more »


Health Privacy Update: Do you have a video surveillance camera on your property?

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Many health care organizations like hospitals, long term care homes, primary care practices, laboratories and pharmacies have video surveillance systems. What happens when someone asks for access to recordings? It depends. Here’s a new story about what might happen. In the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario’s recent decision 78, an individual asked a hospital… Read more »


Health Privacy Update – Do not ignore patient access requests for records

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There are two recent health privacy decisions of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario that have similar facts and similar outcomes. The main message: A doctor (or any other health information custodian) should never ignore a patient’s access request for records. If you do, the IPC won’t be happy. We want a happy IPC…. Read more »


Can your patients trust you in the age of electronic privacy scandals?

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In the last few years, the public has heard A LOT of scary things about electronic privacy scandals. In 2017, Equifax admitted their electronic records were compromised leaving millions of users’ financial information exposed. In May 2017, the WannaCry Ransomware attack negatively impacted 19,000 healthcare appointments across the United Kingdom which response cost the NHS over… Read more »


Health Privacy Update: Annual Statistical Report Portal Is Now Open

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What does that mean? If you are not a health information custodian in Ontario – stop reading. If you are a health information custodian’s Privacy Officer – keep reading! If you are unsure of whether you are a health information custodian – call me! As you know, all health information custodians in Ontario must complete… Read more »


New IPC health privacy decision #76 – reasonable search at a doctor’s office

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The IPC just released decision #76. Bottom Line: There is no change to your duties as a health information custodian. This decision is entirely consistent with other decisions on the topic of reasonable search and a patient’s right of access to their records of personal health information.  In this case, a patient requested access to… Read more »


Democratizing health information

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That sounds lofty doesn’t it? There is an important movement afoot in health care where recipients of health care services get better, faster, and more consistent access to their own health information.  The effect is democratizing health information. When we give patients instant access to their information, they are better able to navigate their health… Read more »


It’s time to review your Leaves of Absence policies AGAIN Guest Blogger: Maria McDonald

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This blog was written by Maria McDonald from McDonald HR Law Bill 47 became law on November 21, 2018. It becomes effective on January 1, 2019. Bill 47 replaces or revises many of the changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) introduced last year by Bill 148. For all summary of all the changes… Read more »


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.

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