Five Winnipeg chiropractors follow Ombudsman's recommendationsReturn to listing
Jun 29, 2000
The Manitoba Ombudsman's Office has completed an investigation into reports that certain Winnipeg chiropractors used their patients' personal health information to send a letter seeking support for a political nominee.
Barry Tuckett, the Manitoba Ombudsman, found that five Winnipeg chiropractors used and disclosed personal health information for a mailing and telephone solicitation not directly related to the purpose for which the information was collected, without the patients' consent or as otherwise authorized under The Personal Health Information Act, in contravention of the Act. Additionally, the Ombudsman found that the five chiropractors were not in substantive compliance with security safeguard provisions of The Personal Health Information Act.
The investigation was launched on the Ombudsman's own initiative when, in April 1999, the media reported that three named chiropractors had used personal information of patients to send a letter seeking support for a political nominee. Early in the investigation, it was learned that one of the chiropractors had been mistakenly identified by the media. In reviewing the matter, it came to the Ombudsman's attention that three other chiropractors may have used and disclosed patients' personal health information contrary to The Personal Health Information Act.
The Ombudsman's report to the five chiropractors, dated May 8, 2000, advised of his opinion that they were in contravention of provisions of The Personal Health Information Act. In the Ombudsman's report, four recommendations were made:
- That a written apology be provided as soon as possible to your patients who have expressed concern about the unauthorized use and/or disclosure of their personal health information.
- That reasonable steps be taken to ensure that the personal health information of your patients that was disclosed to Ted Murphy (the political nominee) and by him to any other person, as well as any other records generated from the use and disclosure of personal health information that would identify your patients, be destroyed.
- That steps be undertaken immediately to identify any deficiencies relating to your compliance with section 17, 18 and 19 of The Personal Health Information Act and the Personal Health Information Regulation 245/97.
- That steps be undertaken immediately to address any deficiencies identified to ensure compliance with The Personal Health Information Act and the Personal Health Information Regulation 245/97.
The written responses from the chiropractors indicated that these recommendations have been accepted. In brief, written apologies were provided where patients had expressed concern; the personal health information that was disclosed, as well as other records generated from the use and disclosure of the personal health information, was destroyed; and steps have been taken to identify and address deficiencies relating to security safeguards as set out in The Personal Health Information Act and Personal Health Information Regulation 245/97.
Mr. Tuckett noted: "We have found no evidence to conclude that the five chiropractors knew that the use and disclosure of patient lists for this purpose was in non-compliance with the Act. The attention and public scrutiny given to this improper use and disclosure will no doubt bring awareness of the obligations placed on health professionals by The Personal Health Information Act respecting the collection, use, disclosure and safeguarding of personal health information."