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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 (CNO) 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 your 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 in the Personal Health Information Protection Act ,and with best practices, such as those outlined in the Ontario Privacy Commissioner's Circle of Care: Sharing Personal Health Information for Health-Care Purposes.

CNO takes breaches of your confidential health information seriously. When we hear of such breaches by nurses — either from you directly, an employer or a news report —  we take specific steps to assess each report and correct nursing practice.   

You can read more about what we tell nurses about maintaining the confidentiality of patient information in the Confidentiality and Privacy – Personal Health Information practice standard.

Page last reviewed August 11, 2020