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: Privacy


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 »


Police! Six concepts health leaders need to know when interacting with police

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I am often asked by health leaders what to do when police arrive and need information about patients. Police officers and police departments are important community partners for health care organizations. As citizens, we all rely on the police to protect us and enforce the laws.  It is vital to the success of all health… Read more »


New Freedom of Information resource

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I just found this freedom of information resource and thought others might not have known about it either. It is intended as a document for the general public to understand freedom of information laws in Ontario. It is also useful for provincial and municipal freedom of information and privacy co-ordinators. How wonderful! Thank you Ministry… Read more »


Nuanced privacy decision from IPC on access to deceased patient’s records

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There is a new health privacy decision 75 of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. Bottom line for health care organizations: If a client has died, you have to be careful about the release of health records to the estate trustees under the will.  If the will appoints multiple estate trustees (executors) – you… Read more »


New snooping case for health privacy – Decision 74 of the IPC released

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Decision 74 just released by the Information and Privacy Commissioner is another snooping case. My summary of all the IPC decisions is available here. A physician used a hospital’s electronic health record system to look at the records of a patient numerous times without authorization.  The physician was related to the patient by marriage and… Read more »



Yikes! Want to know what a ransomware attack sounds like in healthcare?

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According to a CBC report published yesterday, a home medical services company was recently hacked and tens of thousands of health records for home care patients across Ontario were held for ransom. The home care company issued a public statement in June 2018 confirming that it had been the victim of a cyber attack. A group… Read more »


Health Privacy Update: New IPC Decision shows you may have to give access to your communications with HIROC

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Calling all Health Privacy Officers. You need to read the just  released PHIPA Decision 73 from the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. Bottom Line: This decision has an impact on all health care organizations in Ontario.  Communications with your insurer, such as HIROC, may be accessible through PHIPA access requests. This is not your run… Read more »


Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events

November 14, 16, 29 & 30 and December 3, 11, 12, 13 & 19

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...

Building healthy habits

November 26, 2018

Legal coaching at a Toronto law firm.

A private coaching session

Primary care webinar: Shared services agreements

December 6, 2018, 12 noon

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Pitfalls that primary care organizations need to look out for when agreeing to provide care in collaboration with other healthcare organizations.

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!

December 5, 2018 4-5pm and January 9, 2019 12noon-1pm

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.

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