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Abandoned Records Lead to Another PHIPA Order in Ontario

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Last week Ontario, Canada’s Information and Privacy Commissioner's (IPC) office issued its third Executive Order under the powers granted it by PHIPA.

The Executive Order resulted from the IPC being notified by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario on September 22, 2006, that a medical and rehabilitation clinic had closed its operations and left behind records containing personal health information.

According to the web posting on the incident and the subsequent investigation, the Commissioner’s office states that such failure to adequately address privacy and security issues with respect to the treatment of records of personal health information following a change in practice can have harmful consequences for the individuals to whom this information relates.

The posting further states that inadequate records management policies and procedures following a change in practice may not only lead to breaches of privacy, but may also deprive individuals of their right to access and correct records of personal health information. Furthermore, such poor practices have the potential to compromise the continuity of care of the individuals to whom these records relate.

Finally, the synopsis clearly states that health information custodians have a duty to ensure that records of personal health information are retained, transferred and disposed of in a secure manner throughout their lifecycle.

PHIPA (Personal Health Information Protection Act) is an Ontario law that gives the Province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner the authority to issue directives correcting or improving the protection of personal medical information. The first such order HO-001 was issued as a result of medical records being strewn over the streets of Toronto during the filming of a movie.

Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, is a keynote speaker at the upcoming NAID-Canada Conference.

Click here for complete information on the NAID-Canada Conference to be held in Toronto on February 1-2, 2007.
Click here to read the Health Order HO-003
Click here to read the findings of the investigation.