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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Inicdent: Ottawa medical info trashed and then dumped in driveway 

It's bad enough that sensitive medical information was being thrown out instead of being shredded, but someone dropped the bag of "trash" on a Manotick man's driveway. But it gets worse ... this is the second time.

The Ottawa Sun is reporting in incident involving the medical waste and health information originating from Gamma-Dynacare in a suburb of Ottawa.

Ottawa Sun Online: NEWS - Patient info in trash: "Homeowner finds medical waste, including personal data, in his driveway for second time

A MANOTICK homeowner was shocked last week to find used medical supplies and private health information in a garbage bag dumped in his driveway.

Anthony Heembrock opened the bag Thursday to find out who'd dumped garbage on Rideau Bend Cres. for a second week in a row.

He says he found medical debris, including bloodied gauze and lab test forms with patients' names, addresses, phone and OHIP numbers.

"What if my animals or my kids got into this stuff?" Heembrock said. "What about patients' confidentiality?"

He's worried that kids and pets are at risk from handling medical waste and patients from identity theft or fraud if the information fell into the wrong hands.

Heembrock said the forms listed the Gamma-Dynacare Medical Laboratories, which shares a building with the Manotick Medical Centre. Gamma-Dynacare didn't return calls yesterday.

Dr. Ann Fillingham, a physician at the health centre, says the public was never at risk from the bag of garbage but how it disappeared is under investigation, she said.

The medical items Heembrock found, including urine specimen bottles, had never been used, she said. The bag did contain cotton balls that are taped to patients' arms after blood tests because patients throw them in the trash.

The clinic has secure disposal of needles and blood products and shreds all sensitive patient information, Fillingham said.


She said the records found were requisition forms from the lab, not medical centre patient records.

Someone must have grabbed the garbage in the few minutes between when it's collected from the building and put in a locked dumpster, Fillingham said. It's now locked up at all times.

"How the garbage got to where it got twice doesn't make sense," Fillingham said. "Something is going on. We're not letting it happen again."

Having health information turn up in the garbage could violate new health privacy legislation, said Bob Spence, spokesman for the province's information and privacy commissioner.

The Personal Health Information Protection Act requires health care workers to store, share and discard private information securely.

"Anyone who works in health would be encouraged to destroy health information rather than throwing it out in the trash," said Spence. "Once we obtain more information, we will be launching a privacy investigation into this."..."

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