Privacy and Confidentiality
Contact the Privacy/FOI Office
Niagara Health System
Phone: 905.378.4647 ext. 44475
Email the FOI & Privacy Office
To view, get copies, or request a correction to your health records, please contact Health Records.
Our Commitment to Privacy
At Niagara Health System (NHS), we treat your Personal Health Information (PHI) with respect and sensitivity and do so in accordance with the Ontario Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA, 2004) and all other applicable legislation.
The Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) is consent-based legislation which establishes legal requirements for the collection, use, disclosure and disposal of your personal health information. We have administrative, physical and technical security measures in place to protect your Personal Health Information from theft, loss, unauthorized use, access, copying, modification, disclosure and disposal. We conduct audits and perform investigations to monitor and manage our PHI privacy compliance.
Collection of Personal Health Information
We collect personal health information about you directly from you, or from the individual who can legally make decisions for you about your personal health information.
The personal health information we collect may include your name, date of birth, address, contact information, medical history, records of the care you received during prior visits to the Niagara Health System, or other hospitals & clinics.
Use and Disclosure of Personal Health Information (PHI)
Access to your personal health information is available to those who ‘need to know’ to provide care and treatment to you. This includes: physicians, nurses, technicians, therapists, chaplains and all other members of your healthcare team. We collect, use and disclose your PHI as necessary to:
- Treat and care for you, (inside and outside our NHS hospital sites, for example: when you are transferred to another facility)
- Communicate or consult about your healthcare with your doctor(s) and your other healthcare providers
- Obtain payment for your healthcare and hospital services, including OHIP, WSIB and your private insurance
- Plan, administer and manage our NHS hospital business operations
- Conduct risk management and research activities
- Compile statistics
- Comply with legal and regulatory requirements
- Fulfill other purposes as required by law.
Your family physician is considered an important member of your healthcare team. If you are receiving care at our hospital, a copy of your treatment record and/or diagnostic test results will be forwarded to your family physician unless you tell us not to provide this information.
Non-clinical information about your visit such as your name, location within the hospital and home address may be released in order to:
- Assist visiting family, friends and clergy to locate you in the hospital
- Conduct patient satisfaction surveys that allow us to monitor and improve the quality of our patient services
- Conduct fundraising campaigns through the NHS hospital Foundations
Unless you tell us not to provide this information.
Research, Education and Planning
We obtain your consent before we disclose your information for research projects. NOTE: some research projects DO NOT require your consent and have safeguards in place to protect your privacy. (such as removing your identity). We may also provide your PHI to certain ‘prescribed entities’ allowed under PHIPA for planning and management of our Ontario healthcare system.
Identified ‘prescribed entities’ (per PHIPA): Cancer Care Ontario (CCO); Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI); Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES); and Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO).
Electronic Health Records (EHR’s)
Conversion from hard copy to electronic records is done to improve access to and coordination of your care, to enhance patient safety, to reduce wait times, to avoid duplicate testing and provide timely access to your health information by your healthcare team.
Your electronic health record information is stored securely on shared health information databases and is access by authorized individuals.
Maintaining the confidentiality of your personal information is very important to us.
The Niagara Health System employs security measures, policies, procedures, and technology is in place to ensure your personal information is accessed by authorized individuals.
All Niagara Health System personnel: physicians; staff; volunteers; students and other agents of the hospital must follow the hospital’s privacy and security policies and procedures.
Privacy and Confidentiality Training
We continually conduct privacy training, education and orientation sessions for NHS staff, volunteers and students.
- Provide guidance and interpretation regarding the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA);
- Explain our NHS Privacy Policies;
- Present practical tips for handling common situations involving access, use and disclosure of personal health information;
- Answer questions about privacy and patient confidentiality issues.
In addition, online access to privacy training and resources are provided for staff learning on our NHS intranet.
Your Rights and Choices
You, or a person who can legally make decisions about your PHI, have the right to:
- View and get copies of your personal health information or hospital records.
- Ask us to make corrections to inaccurate or incomplete PHI.
- Ask us not to share your PHI with other healthcare providers unless we are permitted or required to do so by law.
- Be informed if your PHI is lost, stolen, missing or improperly accessed or disclosed.
Some exceptions apply to these rights.
Family and Friends
Your family and friends may be told general information about you, such as your location in the hospital and your general health condition, unless you tell us not to provide this information.
Spiritual and Religious Visits
If you provide us information regarding your faith group affiliation, parish or congregation, we may give your name and room location to a member of the visiting clergy of your faith group, unless you tell us not to provide this information.
The Niagara Health System relies on patient and community support for part of our funding. We, or a NHS Foundation Office, may use your name and address and contact you for support, unless you tell us not to provide this information.
For more information on privacy, contact us:
NHS Privacy/FOI Office
Niagara Health System phone: 905.378.4647, ext. 44475
Please Note: If you wish to view, get copies, or request a correction to your health records, please contact Health Records.
If you need more information about your privacy rights, or you are unable to resolve a privacy concern with the NHS, you may contact:
Information & Privacy Commissioner/Ontario (IPC/O) at: 1-800-387-0073, or email your privacy concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org