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A Message for the Public

Your Privacy Matters to Us

As a member of the public, what should you know about the handling of your personal health information by nurses?

Our role at the College of Nurses of Ontario is to set and enforce the standards of practice for nurses. This includes reinforcing for nurses the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of your health information. You have the right to expect that:

  • only nurses and other health care providers directly involved in your care have access to your personal health information
  • health care providers ask you for permission to share information outside of the immediate health care team
  • your health care information is accurate and kept up-to-date
  • your personal information is used only for the purpose for which it was collected, and
  • health care providers are following the rules around the handling of personal health information as outlined in legislation, such as the Personal Health Information Protection Act and best practices like those outlined in the Ontario Privacy Commissioner's Circle of Care: Sharing Personal Health Information for Health-Care Purposes

The College takes breaches of your confidential health information very seriously. When the College hears of such breaches by nurses – either from you directly, an employer or a news report –  there are specific steps we take to assess each report and correct nursing practice, including launching an investigation into the matter.   

Read more about what the College tells nurses about maintaining the confidentiality of patient information in the Confidentiality and Privacy – Personal Health Information practice standard.

Page last reviewed October 17, 2014