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)

Don’t just throw it away! New report that paper health records can cause serious privacy issues

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A new Canadian study published in the American Medical Association journal JAMA found that hospitals have a serious issue when it comes to throwing away paper copies of health records. The study was undertaken by a group at St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto. They went through the recycling and garbage of five teaching hospitals. The results were unsettling…. Read more »


5 traps you should avoid when a patient complains

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Every health care organization receives complaints. A complaint is any negative feedback received from a patient or family member of a patient about your services. Health care is a complicated service industry and no matter how great the services you deliver are or the quality of your team members, there will always be gaps in… Read more »


What do medical affairs leaders in hospitals do?

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One of my favourite activities is working with medical affairs leaders in hospitals managing complaints and concerns about physicians.  But when I tell people about that work – I get a few quizzical looks. Medical affairs? What is that? The public knows very little about the tangled web relationship between hospitals and physicians and their… Read more »


Health Privacy Update: IPC issued new guidelines for disposing of electronic information

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The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario released new guidelines today for disposing of electronic media. These guidelines explain what it means to take “reasonable steps” to safeguard personal health information through secure destruction. The guidelines apply to all custodians under the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004.  That means you, health care providers and… Read more »


A vote for even greater transparency in health care

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The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario wrote a recent blog post “Privacy is not a Barrier to Releasing Non-Identifying Statistics“. In particular, the IPC noted an example that the public wants to know how serious the flu-threat is in their community, a risk often measured by the number of local flu-related deaths.  Public members have… Read more »



3 New Decisions of the IPC – Now 67 Orders and Decisions

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There are three new decisions of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario under the health privacy legislation. That brings the total number of Orders and Decisions of the IPC to 67. You can read my summary of all 67 IPC PHIPA Decisions Bottom Line: There are no surprises here.  All three decisions upheld the decisions of the custodians. … Read more »


Wow. I wasn’t expecting that! Managing volatile situations in health care

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Health care organizations of all shapes and sizes deal with volatile situations involving patients (or clients or residents) and family members or caregivers. Remember this case from last year of the woman at a health clinic who was yelling racist comments about wanting to see a “white doctor” and getting increasingly angry that only “brown doctors with… Read more »


Tracking Privacy Breaches in 2018 – Tools and Tips

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I’ve delivered five team privacy training sessions for health care groups this month all over the province. One thing that has everyone talking is the new requirement to track privacy breaches and report the statistics to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario in 2019. Here are some tools and tips to help you better… Read more »



Some of Kate’s Upcoming events

Where immigration and health law issues collide

April 25, 2018

Presentation to invited Community Health Centre clients

In collaboration with immigration lawyer Jacqueline Swaisland.

2018 Privacy Officer Training

May 8 to June 12, 2018

16 hours live and online training

for Privacy Officers and Privacy Officers-to-be. Live sessions held in Toronto. Course is now full, but here are details and booking for Kate's October course.

De-escalation training

May 16, 2018

Training session for a Toronto Family Health Team

In conjunction with leadership coach Christine Burych.

Team Privacy Training Events

May 17, June 13

For Primary Care clinics and FHTs

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

Ask me anything (about health privacy)

12 noon, May 23, 2018

An hour webinar with Kate where you can ask Kate any privacy-related questions you have.

Open to all health Privacy Officers. Register here.

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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The Commissioner provided an update on Latest Developments at the IPC. Here are some highlights.… https://t.co/XKVkb6Aunm

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contact details

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

(416) 855 9557