Personal Health Information Protection Act (2004)

Information Practice Statement

  • General

    This policy applies to Hassle Free Clinic’s (“HFC” or the “Clinic”) permanent site and all of its outreach sites and programs.  It applies to the care of any person who is a past or present client/patient of HFC.  This policy covers the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information.

    Personal Health Information (PHI)

    • This includes identifying information about an individual in oral, recorded or electronic form that:
    • Relates to her or his physical or mental health
    • Relates to providing health care, including identifying a provider of health care
    • Relates to payments or eligibility for health care for an individual
    • Is a health number
    • Identifies her or him as a patient of the Clinic
  • Custodian

    Jane Greer is the Health Information Custodian for Hassle Free Clinic.  This means, under the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA) Ms. Greer has the responsibility to ensure that personal health information is collected, used, stored and shared with full regard for the protection of privacy and the confidentiality of personal health information.  This obligation to protect the privacy of PHI extends to all physicians, staff, volunteers, students, residents, researchers, computer support people and anyone else visiting the Clinic or participating in its programs off site.

    It should be noted that positive laboratory results of reportable diseases go directly to the Public Health Department as mandated by the Health Protection and Promotion Act of Ontario.  The collection, use and disclosure of PHI in these circumstances by public health staff are beyond the authority of the Clinic.

    It should also be noted that exemptions to this policy may be made by physicians and/or staff in the case of suspected physical or sexual abuse of a minor child, as mandated by the Child and Family Services Act.

  • Collection

    The Clinic collects personal health information from clients and other authorized persons to provide care, promote health and to prevent disease.  The kind of personal health information collected may include:

    • Name, address, date of birth and Ontario health card number, or other health insurance information
    • Facts about health history, health care and current concerns
    • Information about payment for health care, when required for certain Clinic services

    Personal health information may be collected in person, on the phone, through written or electronic documents.  All documentation of personal health information by the Clinic is recorded on paper and/or electronically and will not be disclosed except as outlined below.  The Clinic undertakes to secure its paper and electronic files through security systems.

  • Use

    Personal health information will not be disclosed except under the following circumstances.

  • To the Patient

    A client may view her or his chart on Clinic premises without charge.  The patient may also obtain a copy of their chart.  The Clinic may require reasonable notice to respond to a request for photocopying.

    Clients can receive test results or other information by telephone.  When giving test results, staff will ask for a birth date in addition to the patient’s name.  Anonymous HIV test results should always be given in person except in the most extraordinary circumstances.  In order to obtain these results by phone, the patient must provide a unique identifier while on Clinic premises, in addition to the Anonymous HIV # and date of birth.

    Hassle Free will not communicate test results to patients via electronic means.  If that is the preferred/only method of contact with patients, the Clinic may choose to e-mail patients but only to ask them to contact the Clinic in person or by telephone.  The Clinic may make exceptions to this in extraordinary circumstances where differing abilities make phone or in person contact impossible.

  • To Health Care Providers

    Personal Health information relating to a patient can be shared among Clinic physicians, staff and volunteers in order to provide health care.

    Personal health information relating to a client may be shared with other health care providers only on the basis of informed consent.  If the sharing of the information is for the purposes of making a referral, and the client has consented to the referral process, then written patient consent is not required.  Otherwise, a written consent form that specifies what information is to be released and to whom, signed by the client and witnessed and dated, should be obtained.

  • To Authorized Representatives of the Patient

    Personal health information relating to a patient may be disclosed to an authorized representative of a patient only on the basis of a consent form that specifies what information is to be released and to who, is signed by the patient, witnessed and dated.  HFC may, but is not required to, seek confirmation of the authority of the personal representative by checking with the patient.

    HFC may charge for photocopying and delivery if applicable.

    In response to a Summons or other Court Application

    Personal health information may be subject to disclosure obligations imposed by law, i.e. the patient is or becomes involved in legal proceedings to which the information is relevant.

    HFC will not disclose personal health information immediately upon receipt of the summons or other court application.

    If HFC receives a summons or other court application seeking the disclosure of personal health information, all related records will be removed from regular Clinic use and placed in a sealed envelope.  HFC will immediately assert privilege over the records, and will use its best efforts to ensure that the question of whether the records must be disclosed is determined by the relevant court or tribunal.

    HFC will determine whether it is in proper receipt of the summons or other court application, and will use best efforts to ensure the patient to whom the records relate is notified that the summons or other court application has been received by HFC and of its contents, so that they may take steps to protect his or her privacy interests.

    HFC will determine its position as to the disclosure of personal health information at issue considering the interests of the patient, the Clinic and applicable law.

    HFC will attend before the relevant court or tribunal to make submissions as to whether the sealed records must be disclosed by HFC and, if so, to what extent.

    In pursuing the steps set out above, HFC will seek the advice of legal counsel.

  • Access

    Patients who wish to access or correct their personal health information, or who have questions about how it is collected, maintained, used or disclosed, are encouraged to discuss this with their health care provider at the Clinic.

    However, patients may also make a written request for access or to correct personal health information under PHIPA, through the Health Information Custodian, or her delegate.

  • Complaints

    Hassle Free Clinic is committed to resolving all concerns or complaints about access or privacy practices at the Clinic, and encourages patients with such concerns to discuss them with the Health Information Custodian or her delegate.

    Individuals may also lodge a complaint regarding access or privacy practices at HFC directly with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) at 416 · 326 · 3333.

    We are equally committed to consistent, high-quality service for all our clients. We do our best, but if you do have a complaint, ask to speak to the complaints officer. The two of you can discuss your situation with regard to the Clinic’s complaints policy.