A famous person shows up at a hospital. A colleague has a serious accident. A friend of the family attempts suicide.
If you’re a nurse working in the care facility in which any of these people are being treated, you may be concerned, curious or think the case has some educational value to you. However, unless you’re part of the client’s circle of care, it’s illegal for you to access their records.
Privacy is an essential element of client care, and privacy breaches often lead to emotional distress for clients. Clients need to feel confident and comfortable that the information they share with their health care team will be kept confidential.
A serious offence
On May 6, 2016, two health workers became the first in Ontario to be convicted under the Personal Health Information Protection Act for snooping into former Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s electronic health record. They were each fined $2,505.
Since then, the Act has been amended to include new measures that protect clients' health information and impose tougher penalties for privacy breaches.