Ontario health records proposal would breach privacy, experts say

From the Canadian Medical Association Journal:

The province of Ontario is contemplating the creation of electronic health records that could include a patient’s psycho-social, financial and legal history, a provincial official has indicated.

But so comprehensive and sweeping is the proposed database that privacy and legal experts say they are “appalled” and “stunned.”

The province’s plans, sketched at an e-Health conference in Toronto, Ontario earlier this month by Grant Gillis, director of ehealth standards for eHealth Ontario, would see the creation of comprehensive profiles about all Ontario patients, including their “social history.”

The records could include information about a patient’s education, employment, financial status, legal history, residence history, sexual orientation and spirituality, Gillis told the conference. Gillis also indicated that the information could include a category called “risk.” eHealth Ontario later indicated in an email that risk is a “general” category. Some examples found on forms provided by stakeholders during our engagement process include: Risk of falls/wandering; Risk of harm to others; (and) Risk of patient having perhaps been exposed to an infectious disease.”

Read more on CMAJ.

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