The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Friday, October 22, 2004

North Carolina psychiatrists debate how much therapeutic information should be provided to insurers 

The tension between patient privacy and an insurer's interest in knowing what is being paid for has led to a significant conflict between certain North Carolina psychiatrists and an insurance company. The Psychiatric Times has a very thoughtful article on a battle raging between two psychiatrists and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

This is very much a live issue here in Canada. Patients may not be aware of how much information is being transmitted to their insurers and fear of disclosure can have a significant impact upon the therapeutic relationship. At the same time, health professionals may inadvertently provide too much information, resulting in unintended consequences to the patient.

Patient Privacy Battle Hinges on Competing Interests:

"by Michael Jonathan Grinfeld
Psychiatric Times January 2001 Vol. XVIII Issue 1

One of the reasons that details surrounding a clash over the privacy of patients' records in North Carolina are shrouded in secrecy is that there are still aspects of the dispute that, ironically, remain confidential. The year-and-a-half-old battle, which started after a breakdown in the relationship between two psychiatrists and a major health insurer in the region, yielded privacy issues so critical that the American Psychiatric Association and the North Carolina Psychiatric Association (NCPA) ultimately agreed to jump into the fray.

At issue is a conundrum that will ultimately confront every psychiatrist in the nation and will, if not resolved in a way that reconciles competing interests, strike at the heart of mental health care: Can psychiatrists preserve patient confidentiality while at the same time providing enough information to insurers so they can get paid?

Unresolved questions abound: How much information can insurers justifiably request to ensure that health benefits are paid properly? Are benefits payers asking for so much information that they risk undermining the therapeutic relationships between physicians and patients, or, even worse, are they so intrusive that people won't seek care when they need it? Will physicians sacrifice their obligation to preserve their patients' most intimate revelations in order to ensure an uninterrupted income stream? ..."

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