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.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Follow-up: Las Vegas hospital responds to article on hospitalized orphan 

This is a followup to an earlier posting, in which I linked to a story in the Las Vegas Review Journal. (PIPEDA and Canadian Privacy Law: Read the privacy law before implementing an inhuman policy.) The story in the paper certainly left the impression that the hospital in question did not allow relatives and friends to know that the child was in the hospital. Now, the CEO of the hospital weighs in to give the hospital's position. I'm in no position to judge whose account is correct (I'm leaning toward the hospital, but what do I know?), but readers should take a close read of the CEO's letter: -- Opinion: LETTERS: UMC policies protected, comforted boy:

"To the editor:

I'd like to correct the record concerning your news reports and editorial about the young boy who witnessed the brutal slaying of his mother and became a victim of violence himself while trying to protect her.

As the only Level 1 trauma center in Southern Nevada, University Medical Center had the responsibility of responding to this boy's medical needs as well as his emotional well-being.

The articles and editorial (" `Privacy' law fails brave boy," Nov. 13) suggested that this boy was left alone to deal with his injuries and the emotional turmoil of his loss. I want to assure everyone that this was simply not the case.

It also was suggested that UMC ought to have allowed total strangers to come into the facility to sit with this patient. While grateful for these offers of assistance, I'd like to explain why this was not practical.

First, UMC employs three certified child life specialists who are assigned to respond to the emotional needs of any pediatric patient who requires their services. In this particular situation, a child life specialist was immediately assigned to the patient upon admission to the hospital.

It should also be pointed out that this patient was recovering in a specialized pediatric intensive care unit, where the nursing care is one-on-one for each patient. Therefore, at no time was this child ever left alone or unattended. In fact, I can assure you that we were there to provide comfort and assistance and to hold his hand during a time of immeasurable grief and loss.

Much has been written about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act being the rationale for not publicly disclosing the patient's name and condition. The reality is, even if there were no HIPAA regulations, there have always been patient privacy protocols any hospital would follow. I think we all can agree that hospitals must do all that they can to guard the privacy of their patients and to ensure that their medical information be kept confidential. Additionally, this boy was a witness to a murder, so an extra layer of caution needed to be maintained to protect him.

We take very seriously our slogan, "UMC: The Symbol of Excellence." We believe that in this case, we lived up to that slogan's significance. We saved a life. We cared for a poor child's emotional well-being with personal attention and care. We found a relative who could come sit by his bedside. In this case, as in all cases, our first priority was with the patient. I thought your readers would like to know.



The writer is chief executive officer of University Medical Center in Las Vegas. "

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