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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Discussion of Canadian Plan B and privacy issues in the BMJ 

The British Medical Journal has an article on the current controversy in Canada over the collection of personal information in connection with dispensing the morning after pill, aka Plan B: Advice to pharmacists on dispensing contraception an "invasion of privacy" -- Spurgeon 331 (7529): 1360 -- BMJ.

There is also a letter to the editor in the December 9 edition that raises one of the most significant issues for pharmacists. Namely, the role of pharmacists in the dispensing of such drugs: Rapid Responses for Spurgeon, 331 (7529) 1360:

Spurgeon's news(1) seems to fall into a recurrent BMJ bias: forgetting the clinical role of the pharmacist. The text seems to state that pharmacists gathering relevant clinical information are invading patient privacy. This leads to a dichotomy: Is a physician invading patient privacy when gathering patient clinical information? Or, do pharmacists invade patient privacy because they should not act clinically?

Obviously, there is no doubt to the first question. Assessing clinical situations requires some information about patient health status, but also about patient life style. So, a healthcare professional needs information to make a decision, and sometimes this information can be considered as private. Thus, confidentiality is expected.

But, what about the second question? Is this the never-ending story? When are we going to shoot(2) the pharmacist? How big should be the evidence of the benefits of the clinical role of pharmacist working together with the other healthcare professionals?

And the most important question, why do not give the right to choice to the patient? If patients want to give that private information to their pharmacists, why should another healthcare professional disagree?

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