Personal Health Information Protection Act

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Personal Health Information Protection Act
Ontario legislative building.jpg
An Ontario Act to establish consistent rules governing the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information in the hands of ’health information custodians‘, such as doctors, hospitals or other health care providers.
Citation S.O. 2004, Chapter 3 Schedule A
Enacted by Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Date assented to 20 May 2004
Date commenced 1 November 2004
Legislative history
Bill Bill 31, Schedule A
Introduced by Ministry of Consumer and Business Services and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care

The Personal Health Information Protection Act, also known as PHIPA ('pee-hip-ah'), is Ontario legislation established in November 2004. PHIPA is one of two components of the Health Information Protection Act. The Health Information Protection Act, also established in 2004, comprises two schedules: PHIPA (Schedule A) and the Quality of Care Information Protection Act (Schedule B).[1]

PHIPA provides a set of rules for the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information, and includes the following provisions:

  • Consent is required for the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information, with few exceptions
  • Health information custodians are required to treat all personal health information as confidential and maintain its security
  • Individuals have a right to access their personal health information, as well as the right to correct errors
  • Individuals have the right to instruct health information custodians not to share their personal health information with others
  • Rules are provided for the use of personal health information for fundraising or marketing purposes
  • Guidelines are set for the use and disclosure of personal health information for research purposes
  • Accountability is ensured by granting an individual the right to complain if they have identified an error in their personal health information
  • Remedies are established for breaches of the legislation[1]

History[edit]

  • December 17, 2003: The Health Information Protection Act (Bill 31) was introduced
  • January 26, 2004: Public hearing at Standing Committee on General Government held in Toronto
  • February 2, 2004: Public hearing at Standing Committee on General Government held in Sault Ste. Marie, Kingston and London
  • February 9, 2004: and April 28, 2004 Clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill resulting in various amendments
  • May 17, 2004: Bill 31 passed third and final reading with unanimous support in the legislature
  • May 20, 2004: Bill 31 received Royal Assent
  • July 3 - September 3, 2004: Public consultation on regulations
  • November 1, 2004: Schedules A and B of the Health Information Protection Act come into force[2]

Application[edit]

PHIPA applies to individuals and organizations involved in the delivery of healthcare services. Under the Act, they are referred to as “health information custodians”.

Health information custodians[edit]

A health information custodian can be any number of individuals or organizations who have custody or control of personal health information.[3] Some examples of a health information custodian include:

  • Healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, dentists, psychologists, paramedics, optometrists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, dieticians, naturopaths and acupuncturists
  • Hospitals
  • Long-term care homes and homes for special care
  • Community Care Access Centres
  • Pharmacies
  • Medical laboratories
  • Local medical officers of health
  • Ambulance services
  • Community mental health programs
  • Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care[3][4]

Agents of health information custodians[edit]

An “agent” of a health information custodian includes anyone who is authorized by the health information custodian to do anything on behalf of the custodian with respect to personal health information. These actions are for the purposes of the health information custodian and not the agent.[3]

Examples include:

  • Employees of the health information custodian
  • Persons contracted to provide services to the health information custodian where the person has access to personal health information (e.g. copying or shredding service, records management service)
  • Volunteers or students who have any access to personal health information[5]

Role of the Information and Privacy Commissioner[edit]

The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) is appointed by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and is independent of the government. The IPC is responsible for ensuring that health information custodians comply with the Act.[6] Under PHIPA, the IPC has the power to review and make rulings about complaints.

Complaint Time to File the Complaint
Personal health information has been collected, used or shared contrary to PHIPA Within 1 year
A request to see personal health information has been denied Within 6 months
A request to have personal health information corrected has been denied Within 6 months

When the commissioner receives a complaint, a mediator may be appointed to try to solve the problem. The IPC has various powers to resolve complaints, including the power to order a health information custodian to:

  • Change or stop the way information is collected, used or shared
  • Provide access to the record of personal health information
  • Correct the record of personal health information[6]

Content[edit]

The Act covers the following subjects relating to personal health information in the province of Ontario:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions: Personal Health Information Privacy Act" (PDF). Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "Personal Health Personal Health Information Protection Information Protection Act, 2004: Act, 2004: An Overview An Overview" (PDF). Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Bearwood, John P.; Kerr, J. Alexis (2004). "Coming soon to a health sector near you: Advance look at the Ontario Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA)". Healthcare quarterly. 7 (4): 62–67. 
  4. ^ "Your Health Information: Your Rights" (PDF). Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004". Service Ontario. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "A Guide to the Personal Health Information Privacy Act" (PDF). Retrieved 11 December 2012.