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SJHH / Patients & Visitors/ Privacy & Information Security/ Frequently Asked Questions

Privacy & Information Security Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

What is a Health Record?
What is personal health information?
What types of information are collected by St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton?
What does St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton use my health information for?
What about physician files?
Can I restrict the collection or use of my health information?
Who does St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton give my information to?
Would my information ever be sold or given to outside companies or my employer?
Can my family see my health information?
Can my family and friends call to get information about me over the phone?
How do I obtain information about a deceased patient for me or my families health planning?
Is there a fee for access to personal health information?
Do I need parental consent if I am a youth?
Who at SJHH may access my PHI?
Retention of your Health Record
How does St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton protect my information?

 

Answers to FAQ

What is a Health Record?

A health record is a confidential compilation of pertinent facts of an individual’s health history, including all past and present medical conditions, illnesses and treatments, with emphasis on the specific events affecting the patient during the current episode of care.  The information in the health record is created by all healthcare professionals providing care and is used for the continuity of care. (Canadian Health Information Management Association)

What is personal health information?

Personal Health Information means any identifying information about an individual in oral or recorded form including: physical or mental health and family health history, provision of health care and identifying a person as a provider of health care to the individual, a long-term health care service plan, payment or eligibility of health care, body part or bodily substance (e.g., blood) donation, health card number and/or identifies an individual substitute decision maker. 
Identifying information means information that identifies an individual or for which it is reasonably foreseeable in the circumstances that it could be utilized, either alone or with other information, to identify an individual.
An individual has the right to retain control over the collection, use and disclosure of his/her personal information by law in Canada. 

What types of information are collected by St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton?

St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton collects both personal and personal health information. Information like your name, date of birth, address and extended health insurance numbers are examples of personal information. Information relating to previous health problems, the record of your visits to the hospital, what health care we provide to you during those visits and Health Card Number are examples of your personal health information. 

What does St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton use my health information for?

St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton uses your information for the delivery of direct patient care, administration of the health care system, research, teaching, statistics, fundraising, and to meet legal and regulatory requirements.  

St. Joseph's Statement of Information Practices

What about physician files?

Any personal information collected in the course of activity undertaken by employees or agents of St. Josephs will be subject to St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton's Privacy and Security of Personal Information Policy. Under this policy, access to information (patient or otherwise) is a privilege, not a right. In this regard, the policy outlines the responsibilities of hospital employees and others to safeguard the information held by St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton as the custodian of that information on behalf of the individual who provided it to the hospital. We also expect healthcare partners to act in accordance with PHIPA. Specific hospital policy exists for the handling of information normally encountered as part of day-to-day patient care and used by all patient care providers. 

Can I restrict the collection or use of my health information?

Yes. Patients have the right to withhold or withdraw their consent to the use or disclosure of the PHI for a particular purpose, including for the provision of health care. This is commonly referred to as a “Lock Box”. However, certain requirements in PHIPA override the provisions of the "Lock Box".

Who does St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton give my information to?

St Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton is required to disclose patient information to several other organizations. This includes the Ministry of Health, The Canadian Institute for Health Information, Public Health, and Cancer Care Ontario. Information may also be disclosed to other health care providers directly involved in the administration of your care.  We have a responsibility to communicate to your family physician, so that he/she may coordinate your care. St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton advises your family physician of your admission and discharge and supplies them with other healthcare information. 

St. Joseph's discloses your personal health information in accordance to PHIPA. We place appropriate safeguards on the transmission of all information disclosed to other organizations and seek to ensure that health information protection measures are in place and in accordance with the Ontario Personal Health Information Protection Act. 

Would my information ever be sold or given to outside companies or my employer?

St Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton does not sell patient information to drug companies or to anyone else. We require patient consent or a court order to disclose health information to any organization or person not directly involved with the provision of patient care. We will ensure that proper controls are in place to only disclose what is required. 

Can my family see my health information?

Although you have the right to access your health record, this right does not automatically extend to family members and/or friends.  If you provide written authorization for a friend of family member to see your record, then the family/friend member may access the part(s) that you have consented to let them see.  This consent must be in writing. (Applicable fee’s apply)

Can my family and friends be able to call in to get information about me over the phone?

Unless you requested otherwise, we will provide limited information, e.g. to acknowledge that you are a patient at the hospital, your room number and a high level condition report.  We do not provide a lot of information over the phone because we have no way to verify who is calling and what their relationship is to you.

How do I obtain information about a deceased patient for me or my family for health planning?

If you require information for your own health planning or for that of your family you may make a request directly without authorization of the Administrator of the Estate; however, you will not be provided with access to or a copy of the record, but rather with a synopsis of information.

Is there a fee for access to personal health information?

Yes. There is an administrative cost for requests that are required for purposes other than the continuity of patient care. This fee covers processing costs involved with the request.

Do I need parental consent if I am a youth?

Yes. If you want your health records released and you are not at least 16 years old, you must have a parent or legal guardian submits the request on your behalf. 

Who at SJHH may access my PHI?

Only St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton staff involved in your care may access your patient record. All St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton staff are bound by a strict confidentiality agreement, which is signed as a condition of employment. This agreement seeks to ensure staff only access information on a need to know basis. 

Retention of your Health Record

Retention of health records is governed by Ontario law (Personal Health Information and Protection Act 2004).  The Health Records department oversees the secure storage and management of your hospital health record.

How does St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton protect my information?

A few of the ways that the hospital strives to protect both your personal information and your personal health information are by: 

Administrative Safeguards: The St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton Privacy Policy governs the manner in which all St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton care providers and other employees manage patient information. 

Physical Safeguards: St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton has a number of physical safeguards which range from locked doors to staff wearing photo identification to identify themselves as St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton employees. St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton employees must sign a confidentiality agreement as a condition of employment. 

Technical Safeguards: St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton technical department upgrades the security capabilities of the patient information system on an ongoing basis. We have implemented role based access controls to ensure staff only may access information on a need to know basis. The St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton patient information system also uses passwords to protect the system from inappropriate accesses from within and a firewall to protect our system from users on the Internet. All accesses to patient care systems are logged and may be reviewed where there is a suspicion of unauthorized access.