Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Snooping in health files to be made illegal

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THE Selinger government will make it tougher for health-care workers to snoop in patient files.

The NDP introduced a bill Wednesday making it an offence for an employee to use or access personal health information without authorization or to falsify that information.

The changes to the Personal Health Information Act are in response to a recent case investigated by Manitoba's ombudsman involving a girl battling cancer. Her medical file was accessed by a worker without permission at CancerCare Manitoba.

"Our personal health information is the most intimate and private and we have to ensure that it's protected," Health Minister Theresa Oswald said.

The legislation already includes penalties for disclosing personal health information but the ombudsman recommended adding penalties for the inappropriate use of such records.

If passed, the amendments would allow individuals who wilfully look at another person's personal health information without authorization to be prosecuted, even if they do not disclose the information to anyone else.

Under the proposed law, an offender can face a fine of up to $50,000 if convicted. The province is also introducing penalties for falsifying records similar to those in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta.

Oswald said there has been no known instance of falsifying health information here. The law would cover all types of personal health information, including information stored in electronic health and medical records.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 22, 2012 A3

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