Privacy in Saskatchewan Health Care: An Overview
Health information is one of the most sensitive forms of personal
information. Health information is collected primarily for reasons
connected with patient care. Health information may be used for a number
of other reasons including financial reimbursement, medical education,
research, social services, quality assurance, risk management, public
health regulation, litigation, and commercial purposes.
Privacy is a major concern for physicians. The increased availability
of patient records in electronic format has led to concerns about the
potential misuse of personal information for purposes other than direct
patient care. Without confidence that their privacy will be maintained,
patients may refrain from disclosing critical information, may refuse to
provide their consent to use personal health information for research
purposes, or may simply not seek treatment.
A 1999 Canadian Medical Association (CMA) survey found that 11% of
the public held back information from a health-care provider due to
concerns about whom it would be shared with or what purposes it would be
used for. Wrongful release of information to third parties also may
result in harm to the patient. The Supreme Court of Canada has
recognized that Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
includes the right to be free of the psychological stress resulting
from the unauthorized disclosure of one’s personal health information.