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, April 28, 2007

Clerk fined for inappropriate access to personal health information 

Earlier this month, a medical clerk was fined $10,000 for unlawfully accessing the personal health information of her lover's wife. To my knowledge, this is the first charge and conviction of its kind in Canada. The charges were laid under Alberta's Health Information Act. Most other provinces would have no penalty for such conduct.

Medical office clerk fined $10,000 for accessing records of lover's wife

CALGARY (CP) - A medical office clerk has been fined $10,000 for illegally obtaining health records of her lover's wife.

Stephanie MacDonald, who was charged under the Alberta Health Information Act, gained access to test results, biopsy findings and X-rays belonging to Marlene Stallard 17 times between August 2005 and May 2006.

Stallard, who is fighting ovarian cancer, told court in her victim impact statement the records were used in an attempt to convince her husband she was gravely ill.

It was part of MacDonald's strategy to make her adulterous relationship with James Stallard more permanent, she alleged.

''A violation of your privacy to that degree, when you're going through cancer, is a pretty terrible thing,'' Marlene Stallard said Friday, after the sentencing.

MacDonald, who could access information through her capacity as a clerk at the Dr. McPhalen Professional Corporation, maintained she was working under her lover's direction when she accessed the records. MacDonald and James Stallard are no longer lovers.

But James Stallard testified he only asked MacDonald to get information about his wife's condition twice, and denied he'd asked for information the other 15 times.

MacDonald also said she wasn't aware what she was doing was illegal, noting she'd never been briefed on such practices and her office didn't have a privacy policy.

Provincial court Judge Manfred Delong said he didn't believe a 12-year medical clerk didn't know what she was doing was wrong.

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