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)

Health Privacy Update: New access decision of the IPC

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The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario just issued decision 84, which is a new access decision. Bottom Line: This decision is consistent with other decisions of the IPC and does not require a change to practice. In this case, a patient of a hospital was concerned that hospital staff were inappropriately viewing her record…. Read more »


Health Privacy Update: Parents do not have a right of access to the information about them in their children’s health records

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Stay with me folks – it’s going to get bumpy. There are some important nuances to understand my headline and this case. Here’s the new health privacy decision of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario #83. This case echoes questions I am asked every week in my practice. It is important reading for any… Read more »


Health Privacy Update: Be very careful when speaking with the media about patients

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We know this intuitively – but it bears repeating. Health care organizations should be very careful when speaking with the media about specific patient cases. There is a new Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) health privacy decision directly on this topic. Decision 82 Background: A patient of a hospital died. The family members… Read more »


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 »


Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events
December 11, January 16-17

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 February 4, 2020

Osgoode Professional Development – Health Law Certificate

Kate joins the faculty for this training event. More details...

Primary care webinars: Employment Law Update & Legal Issues for EDs and Board members

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our December webinar is an employment law update, and the January program is a legal update for EDs and Board members.
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...

Osgoode Health Privacy 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!
December 4 (cancelled) but back January 8

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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