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: Mental health facilities


What does a Privacy Officer do in a health care organization?

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I train Privacy Officers to understand their role. So, what does a Privacy Officer do for a health care organization? In Ontario, every health care organization must have a “contact person” to do the following five tasks: Facilitate compliance with the health privacy law, PHIPA Ensure that everyone who works for the organization is informed… Read more »



Health Privacy Update – August 2017

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The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario has just released two new correction request decisions – 46 and 47 (dated June 2017 but released the last week of July).  Decision 45 has not yet been released. Bottom Line: These decisions do not change your practice. So long as you respond to correction requests (as you… Read more »


Health Privacy Update – July 2017

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Mandatory reporting by health information custodians in Ontario to the IPC will now come into effect October 1, 2017 The new regulations requiring the mandatory reporting of privacy breaches to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario will come into effect October 1st (not July 1st as we originally expected). The link to the new… Read more »


Managing Every Day Complaints in Health Care

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I recently surveyed administrative and clinical team members at a family health team and discovered the top 5 issues that lead patients or families to complain where the conversation can get heated: Being told they cannot receive test results over the phone for a family member without the patient’s consent Long wait times Not being able to receive… Read more »


TedTalks your health care team can watch about privacy

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Are you a Privacy Officer for a health care organization and do you struggle to find interesting videos to keep privacy top of mind for your team? Here are fiveTedTalks that you and your team might find interesting: Why privacy matters – have you heard the phrase “If you aren’t doing anything wrong – you should… Read more »


Health Privacy Update – May 2017

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On May 3rd, the Information and Privacy Commissioner and his team was in Thunder Bay. He released a new presentation He receives between 300-350 health privacy complaints annually He talked about the new social worker prosecution He reminded the audience about the new Code of Procedures for health privacy cases with his office He also mentioned… Read more »


What’s new in health privacy – March 2017

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Trying to keep up with all that is happening in health privacy these days?  It’s busy! Here are five updates Ontario health care organizations should know: 1. IPC just notified the public about a new snooping prosecution.  A student at a family health team was fined $25,000 for a privacy breach involving 139 patients (she… Read more »


What are the 3 legal questions every clinician should know how to answer?

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If you are a practicing clinician (nurse, doctor, dentist, midwife, psychologist, OT, PT, social worker etc.) there are three legal questions you should be able to answer: What laws apply to you? Who makes treatment and information decisions for your patients? What are your patients’ privacy rights? I recently spoke at the Hamilton Health Sciences “Ethics… Read more »


Managing difficult employees – 6 minute video

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Maria McDonald of McDonald Human Resources Law and I just did a webinar on “Managing difficult employees and how to terminate employment with compassion” for a group of family health teams. Watch this 6-minute video to learn some tips from Maria when dealing with performance management. Interested in joining our Legal Issues for Family Health Teams… Read more »


Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events
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: Managing Incapacity & Consent to Treatment

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our October webinar is about managing incapacity, and the November title is Consent to Treatment.
Full details of the 2020 webinar series and registration here.

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...

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...

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!
October 2, November 6 and December 4

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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