Are your health records private?

The advantage to a centrally accessible health record for individual Canadians is clear: your hospital, family doctor, or other specialists can access your health information to be sure that you are receiving the best care. Vital information can be locked in an office and unavailable at night or over a weekend.

But centralized records may fly in the face of some of the principles of privacy and information management. As PIPEDA shows, one of the key elements of privacy is that information collected about an individual must relate directly to a particular transaction – in other words, it makes sense that you would provide information about which other drugs you are taking to a pharmacist, as this is vital information in determining whether a prescription will interact with other drugs. But does the emergency room doctor who treats your broken arm need to know about a family history of mental illness?

These are the kinds of questions that remain as Canada moves into a new information age. Canadians should remain vigilant that their privacy remains at the forefront of discussion as new healthcare initiatives come online.

For more information:
Health Canada – Protecting Personal Privacy
Access and Privacy Laws and Commissions
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

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