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)

Ever wonder what patient information you are supposed to share with insurance companies?

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One of the top 5 questions I get asked when I do privacy training in primary care offices is: What patient information am I supposed to share with an insurance company? It’s an every day reality that health care organizations receive release of information forms to send insurance companies information about patients.  The queries can… Read more »


Health Privacy Update: New health privacy decision 71

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The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario just released a new decision under the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004. In Decision 71,  a hospital received a correction request relating to four records (six pages) of information documented in the emergency room. The information was used by physicians to report the patient to the Ministry of Transportation… Read more »


Watch departing employees – what happens if they have health records at home?

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Decision 69 of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario was just released. A former hospital employee (registered health professional who was employed as a Research Coordinator) removed 15 health records, 36 research files and 2 data collection sheets from the hospital’s premises without authorization. The hospital notified police – although the hospital did not… Read more »


Training is your best weapon to guard against fraud – New privacy decision released every health care organization in Ontario needs to read

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Last Friday, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario released two new health privacy decisions. Decision 68 reads like a made for tv movie. It’s a doozy.  Hold on to your socks. The facts are complicated. I’ll try to simplify the back story. Back Story A patient complained that her former spouse (a physician) was… Read more »


Micro laughs

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Are you having any fun? I downloaded the Starbucks app this morning and ordered my coffee and egg bites to go.  Easy. When I got to the store I announced “Hi. This is my first time. I’m so excited.”  The 4 baristas shouted in unison “hooray!”  We all laughed. (Yes, I realize I’m a bit… Read more »


What if she really doesn’t want to handle the truth? Nuanced discussion of how to inform patients of a terminal diagnosis

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This article in the Guardian, Should a doctor always disclose a terminal illness?, had me hopping at the title. Should a doctor always disclose a terminal illness? Absolutely yes.  Every time. Then I read the article.  It gave me pause. Doctors and other health care providers must be truthful and forthcoming.  But, it gave me pause… Read more »


Health Privacy Update: New IPC decision in health privacy released – now 70

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Ding ding ding.  New health privacy decisions are out! The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario just released decision 70 – we are still missing decisions 68 and 69.  I will let you know when they are posted on the IPC’s site.   Here’s my summary of all IPC PHIPA Decisions   UPDATE: The other two have now… Read more »


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 »


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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contact details

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Toronto Ontario M5V 3H5

(416) 855 9557