Use proper channels when patient information requested

Health-care providers should take care when sharing a patient’s medical information with law enforcement Lonny Rosen tells

Ontario’s Court of Appeal recently upheld the drunk-driving acquittal of a woman involved in a fatal car crash. The court found a police officer violated the driver’s privacy rights by requesting her urine-test results from a nurse before seeking a search warrant.

“This decision makes it clear that an individual’s right to confidentiality in medical information extends to substances taken from their body,” says Rosen.

He says that Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA) provides for disclosure of otherwise confidential medical information about a patient for an investigation, as long as it is authorized by law, such as pursuant to a warrant.

“But PHIPA does not authorize providing information to police just because a health practitioner thinks it’s the right thing to do,” Rosen warns, noting that police must come up with their own reasonable and probable grounds for a warrant.

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