Changes are coming to the way personal health records are protected in Saskatchewan.
Amendments to the Health Information Protection Act go into effect Wednesday.
Updates will include strict rules surrounding the storage of records and a specific provision will be put into place regarding the discovery of abandoned or unsecured records.
The new regulations are as follows:
- Strict liability offence: If records are found unsecured, the trustee responsible for the records would need to show they took all reasonable steps to prevent the abandonment. Sometimes called the “reverse onus” clause, it means the Crown would not have to prove the trustee intended to abandon the records, rather they did not take all reasonable steps to protect them.
- Individual offence for willful disclosure of personal information: This change will make it clear HIPA offences for intentional disclosure of personal health information apply not only to trustees, but to individuals who are employees of trustees.
- Snooping offence: A specific offence will be established for inappropriate use of personal health information by employees who access information without a need for that information.
- Take control of abandoned records: A specific provision will be added to HIPA for a system to be put in place to quickly respond to a discovery of abandoned or unsecured records and to take control of the records.
The Health Records Protection Working Group was formed in 2012 after a large number of medical records was found abandoned in a Regina dumpster.
Those files appeared to be from a doctor’s office, or several doctors’ offices, and possibly a diagnostic lab.
The Saskatchewan government said in 2014 it would move ahead on recommendations to help protect patient health information from snooping or when files are abandoned.