I’m Kate Dewhirst.

I’m a lawyer who writes about legal issues affecting healthcare in Canada

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Tag: privacy


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 »


Health Privacy Update: 4 new health privacy decisions of the IPC released

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On Friday January 12, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario released four new decisions. Here is my updated summary of all 64  IPC PHIPA Decisions Decision 61: Reasonable Search: A physician received a request for access to all records relating to the complainant’s deceased son. The complainant believed additional records should exist. The physician said… 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 #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 »


Health Privacy Update #2 – August 2017 – Precedent setting new case Decision 49

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The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario just released two more decisions all health care providers in Ontario should read. Decision 48: A hospital received a request for access to records. The hospital provided the complainant with a full copy of his health records but the complainant believed there should be additional records (specifically letters from… Read more »


What does a Privacy Officer do in a health care organization?

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I train Privacy Officers to understand their role. So, what does a Privacy Officer do for a health care organization? In Ontario, every health care organization must have a “contact person” to do the following five tasks: Facilitate compliance with the health privacy law, PHIPA Ensure that everyone who works for the organization is informed… Read more »


Health Privacy Update – August 2017

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The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario has just released two new correction request decisions – 46 and 47 (dated June 2017 but released the last week of July).  Decision 45 has not yet been released. Bottom Line: These decisions do not change your practice. So long as you respond to correction requests (as you… Read more »


Health Privacy Update – May 2017

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On May 3rd, the Information and Privacy Commissioner and his team was in Thunder Bay. He released a new presentation He receives between 300-350 health privacy complaints annually He talked about the new social worker prosecution He reminded the audience about the new Code of Procedures for health privacy cases with his office He also mentioned… Read more »


What’s new in health privacy – March 2017

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Trying to keep up with all that is happening in health privacy these days?  It’s busy! Here are five updates Ontario health care organizations should know: 1. IPC just notified the public about a new snooping prosecution.  A student at a family health team was fined $25,000 for a privacy breach involving 139 patients (she… Read more »


What is new in health privacy in Ontario?

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In 2016 we saw changes to health privacy legislation in Ontario.  There were significant developments in health privacy litigation and additional certifications of class actions for health privacy breaches.  There were at least two physicians in Ontario who had their licenses to practice suspended for snooping in health records and at least two nurses faced… Read more »


Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events

September 17, September 24, October 16, October 24 and November 21

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

October 23, 2019

Osgoode Professional Development – Mental health Certificate

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

Primary care webinars: Contracts & Communications

September 5 and October 3, 2019, 12 noon

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our September webinar is about understanding contracts you may be asked to sign, and in Octber our title is Managing incapacity in the workplace.

Full details of the 2019 webinar series and registration here.

Privacy Officer training

November 5, 11, 18, 25 & December 2, 2019

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 ...

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...

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!

August 7 and September 4, 2019, 10-11am EST

Free webinars - 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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