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)

What bothers patients? Why do they complain? What we can learn from the Patient Ombudsman’s First Annual Report in Ontario

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The Patient Ombudsman just released her first report: Patient Ombudsman Annual_Report_Final_EN A year of patient and caregiver conversations and complaints by the numbers: Almost 2000 complaints 1431 complaints received by phone 553 written complaints Complaints were made by: 37% patients 29% substitute decision-makers 23% caregivers 6% family members 5% other Some complaints were rerouted to other… Read more »


New guidelines from IPC require Ontario’s healthcare organizations to start tracking privacy breaches in January 2018

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The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario released new guidelines that will come into effect March 2019 but require healthcare organizations to start tracking certain kinds of privacy breaches as of January 2018. Click here for the Annual Reporting of Privacy Breach Statistics to the Commissioner guidelines. Starting January 1st, Ontario’s healthcare organizations (all those who… Read more »





Health Privacy Update #3 – October 2017 – WOW! 6 new decisions of the IPC released last week

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Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner just released six new health privacy decisions at the end of last week. Want to know what they are about? You can read my updated summaries of all 56 of the IPC PHIPA Decisions. Or keep reading this blog for summaries of these six. The decisions are not listed in chronological… Read more »


What you say matters: Mission, vision and values

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What commitments have you made to your patients, team members and the public? When I work with a healthcare organization through a difficult situation (like a patient complaint or a privacy breach) I always look at their mission, vision and values.  These public statements should guide all decision making through difficult times.  These statements are your guide… Read more »


Health Privacy Update #2 – October 2017 – 2 new decisions of the IPC

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Last week the IPC issued two new decisions for health care organizations in Ontario. The first one has practical impact on group practices like family health teams. Group practices should proactively clarify who is the health information custodian  Decision 50 – This one will interest all family health teams and other group practices. It relates to… Read more »


Are you having fun yet?

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In February 2016, I was asked to do an exercise: What do you do for fun? I remember that day vividly because for the first time in my life I was stumped about fun. Upon reflection – I came up with a few things.  Playing with the kids (who were then 3 years old and… Read more »


Professional Staff Leaves of Absence – is your hospital prepared?

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Does your hospital explain to your Professional Staff members the rules about taking a leave of absence? Remember: Professional Staff members may include doctors, dentists, midwives and independent contractor nurse practitioners. Since members of the Professional Staff are usually independent contractors and not employees of a hospital, they independently arrange for their colleagues to cover… Read more »


Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events

April 15, May 3, June 7, 13, 20 & 25

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...

Speaking event

April 10, 2019

At Osgoode Hall

Kate speaks at the Osgoode Health Law Certificate workshop on privacy for health care organizations. More details...

Primary care webinars: Contracts & Communications

April 11 and May 2, 2019, 12 noon

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our April webinar is on employee contracts, and in May our title is communication faux pas.

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!

April 3, 2019 12 noon - 1 pm and
May 1, 2019 9 - 10 am

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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Toronto Ontario M5V 3H5

(416) 855 9557