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Privacy

Manitoba proposes changes to health privacy laws

WINNIPEG – The province of Manitoba is proposing amendments that would improve access to personal health information and enhance public education to ensure Manitobans are aware of their privacy rights, Health Minister Theresa Oswald (pictured here) announced earlier this month.

“It’s important for healthcare providers to share information to ensure each patient receives the best care possible,” said Oswald. “It’s just as important for patients to understand their rights. The proposed amendments would help strike a balance between sharing information to facilitate treatment while maintaining a patient’s right to privacy.”

Proposed changes to the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) include:

• clarifying the nature of consent needed before a patient’s personal health information can be shared;

• permitting the disclosure of information to police services to help them locate an individual reported as missing;

• permitting the disclosure of information about current health-care services to family members and close friends of a patient when those services are being provided in the individual’s home;

• requiring patients be provided with information about their rights to access their personal health information and the right to authorize another person to receive that information;

• permitting the disclosure of patient information to community clergy who provide spiritual care to their congregation in hospitals or personal-care homes and to health facility fundraising foundations for charitable purposes, while at the same time respecting a patient’s right to object to having their name shared;

• requiring a hospital or a personal-care home to respond to a request from individual to access information about care currently being provided within 72 hours of receiving the request; and

• requiring a hospital or a personal-care home to respond to a request from family for access to information about care currently being provided within 72 hours of receiving the request.

In 2004, the province consulted with the public on the Personal Health Information Act through a widely-distributed discussion paper and several public hearings held in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson. Many of the proposed amendments are based on submissions received from individuals and organizations during the review.

The Personal Health Information Act applies broadly to the health-care sector in Manitoba including hospitals, personal-care homes, regional health authorities, health professionals and other health-care organizations. It also applies to government departments and other public bodies across the province that hold personal health information.

 

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