Privacy and Confidentiality
Our Commitment to Privacy
Protecting your privacy and the confidentiality of your personal information has always been an important aspect of Laurier’s Wellness Centre operations. The appropriate collection, use and disclosure of your personal health information is fundamental to our day-to-day operations and to your care.
We strive to provide you with excellent health-care services, which include treating your personal information with respect. Each team member and employee of the Wellness Centre must abide by our commitment to privacy in the handling of personal information in our circle of care model. Our health-care team on the Waterloo and Brantford campuses is comprised of family physicians, psychiatrists, registered nurses, a registered dietitian, chiropractors, registered massage therapists, registered social workers/counsellors, the mental health/student support staff and reception staff.
What is Personal Health Information?
Personal health information (PHI) means identifying information about an individual relating to their physical or mental health (including medical history), the providing of health care to the individual, payments or eligibility for health care, and health number.
Personal Health Information Protection Act
Ontario has a law that protects your personal health information, the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), and we are in compliance with this legislation. Wellness Centre staff are bound as a condition of employment, the Ontario privacy legislation, and relevant colleges and associations, to safeguard your privacy and the confidentiality of your personal information. We will:
- Only collect the information that may be necessary for your care;
- Keep accurate and up-to-date records;
- Safeguard the records in our possession;
- Share information with other Wellness Centre providers involved in your circle of care;
- Share an electronic health record and information only on a “need to know” basis;
- Disclose information to third parties (i.e. outside Laurier’s Wellness Centre) only with your signed consent or where legally permitted; and
- Confidentially retain and destroy records in accordance with the law.
Your request for care implies consent for our collection, use and disclosure of your personal information for purposes related to your care as noted above. Other purposes require your express consent.
You have the right at any time to withhold (some or all) or withdraw your consent to disclose your personal health information. You will be required to sign the appropriate form, which would be forwarded to the director of the Wellness Centre and documented on your electronic record.
With limited exceptions you have the right to see and to obtain copies of your records. Complete copies of records/files must be requested through the Wellness Centre’s director (see privacy principles below).
Release of Information
We want to assure you that no information will be released by us to anyone without your signed consent except in accordance with provincial legislation. You should be aware of the following situations in which your personal information may be disclosed to persons outside of the Wellness Centre without your consent:
- We are required by law to report to the appropriate authorities any suspicions that a child (someone presently under age 16) has been or is being abused, neglected, or witnessing, or in a position to witness, domestic violence.
- If you are in serious and imminent danger of hurting yourself or someone else, we may need to reveal to an appropriate third party enough information to help you and to protect others (e.g. health care providers, ambulance, police, special constables, family, etc.).
- If you are in crisis or at risk/concern to the Laurier community, we may consult with other professionals (e.g. Special Constable Service or the Behavioural Intervention Team) in order to best be able to support you and protect the community. These groups are also bound by privacy legislation.
- If you are involved in a legal proceeding, the court may subpoena our records.
- If sexual contact by a regulated health-care professional is reported.
Otherwise, family, friends, or other third parties such as university officials or faculty will not have access to information from the Wellness Centre about you, or about whether or not you have used our services, unless you sign a release authorizing said disclosure.
The Wellness Centre’s privacy principles informs you of our commitment to privacy and tells you the ways we ensure that your privacy is protected. Our privacy principles apply to protect the personal health information/records under our possession and control.
The 10 Principles of Privacy Accountability
Our privacy principles reflect our compliance with fair information practices, applicable laws and standards of practice.
We take our commitment to securing your privacy very seriously. Each physician, practitioner and employee associated with the Wellness Centre is responsible for the personal information/records under his/her control. Our employees and team members are informed about the importance of privacy and receive information periodically to update them about our privacy principles and related issues.
Identifying Purposes: Why We Collect Information
We ask you for information to establish a relationship and serve your health care needs. We obtain most of our information about you directly from you, or from other practitioners whom you have seen and authorized to disclose to us. You are entitled to know how we use your information and this is described in the privacy statement above and available to you on request. We will limit the information we collect to what we need for those purposes, and we will use it only for those purposes. We will obtain your consent if we wish to use your information for any other purpose.
You have the right to determine how your personal health information (PHI) is used and disclosed. For most health-care purposes, your consent is implied as a result of your consent to treatment; however, in some circumstances your express, sometimes written, consent may be required.
We collect information by fair and lawful means and collect only that information which may be necessary for purposes related to the provision of your health care. If a student chooses to withhold and/or withdraw their consent to disclose PHI, this means that the individual instructs a health care custodian not to disclose PHI to another custodian for the purpose of providing health care.
Students who have withdrawn consent to disclose PHI must sign and date the Consent to Withdrawal Form. Your written Consent to Withdrawal Form will be forwarded to the director of the Wellness Centre, who will document the request in your health record and notify appropriate health-care providers and their supporting staff. It is understood that the consent directive applies only to the PHI that the student has already provided and not to PHI that the student might provide in future:
- PHIPA permits certain collections, uses, and disclosures of PHI, despite the consent directive;
- Health care providers may override the consent directive in certain emergency circumstances, for the purpose of mitigating significant risk of harm to an individual or group of persons; and
- The consent directive may result in delays in receiving health care, reduced quality of care due to the health-care providers lacking complete information about the student, and the health-care provider’s refusal to offer non-emergency care.
We collect information by fair and lawful means and collect only that information which may be necessary for purposes related to the provision of your health care.
Limiting Use, Disclosure and Retention
The information we request from you is used for the purposes defined. We will seek your consent before using the information for purposes beyond the scope of the posted Privacy statement. Under no circumstances do we sell student lists or other personal information to third parties. There are some types of disclosure of your personal health information that may occur as part of this Wellness Centre fulfilling its routine obligations and/or practice management. We will retain your information only for the time it is required for the purposes we describe and once your personal information is no longer required, it will be destroyed. However, due to our ongoing exposure to potential claims, some information is kept for a longer period.
We endeavour to ensure that all decisions involving your personal information are based upon accurate and timely information. While we will do our best to base our decisions on accurate information, we rely on you to disclose all material information and to inform us of any relevant changes.
Safeguards: Protecting Your Information
We protect your information with appropriate safeguards and security measures. The Wellness Centre maintains personal information in a combination of paper and electronic files. Recent paper records concerning individuals’ personal information are stored in files and kept onsite at our office until they can be scanned electronically. Older records may be stored offsite in a secure location.
Access to personal information will be authorized only for the physicians, clinicians and employees associated with the Wellness Centre, and other agents who require access in the performance of their duties, and to those otherwise authorized by law.
Our computer systems are password-secured and constructed in such a way that only authorized individuals can access secure systems and databases. If you send us an email message that includes personal information, such as your name included in the “address,” we will use that information to respond to your inquiry. If your communication is very sensitive, you should not send it electronically unless the email is encrypted or your browser indicates that the access is secure.
Openness: Keeping you Informed
The Wellness Centre has prepared this plain-language Privacy Statement to keep you informed. You may ask to receive a copy of it from any Wellness Centre staff member. If you have any addition al questions or concerns about privacy, we invite you to contact the Wellness Centre Director, Karen Ostrander, by phone at 519.884.0710 x3622 or by fax at 519.885.4865, and we will address your concerns to the best of our ability.
Access and Correction
With limited exceptions, we will give you access to the information we retain about you within a reasonable time, upon presentation of a written request and satisfactory identification. We may charge a fee for this service and if so, we will give you notice in advance of processing your request. If you find errors of fact in your personal health information, please notify us as soon as possible and we will make the appropriate corrections.
We are not required to correct information relating to clinical observations or opinions made in good faith. You have a right to append a short statement of disagreement to your record if we refuse to make a requested change. If we deny your request for access to your personal information, we will advise you in writing of the reason for the refusal and you may then challenge the decision.
We encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns you might have about your privacy or our privacy principles. We will investigate and respond to your concerns about any aspect of our handling of your information. In most cases, issues can be resolved by simply by telling us about it and discussing it.