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July 2021: Disclosing Personal Health Information

Question: When can personal health information be disclosed without consent?

Answer: Maintaining the confidentiality of all clients’ personal health information (PHI) is extremely important. Clients have the right to know that their information will be kept confidential and secure.

The Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 outlines the specific circumstances when an occupational therapist may disclose PHI without an individual’s consent. One example includes when disclosure is necessary to eliminate or reduce a significant risk of serious bodily harm to a person or group of persons.

The information Privacy Commissioner of Ontario’s (IPC) resource - Frequently Asked Questions: Personal Health Information Protection Act (2004) is a useful reference – the section on Disclosures outlines the circumstances when disclosure of PHI without consent may be appropriate. This is a good resource for an occupational therapist’s toolbox!

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