Frequently Asked Questions by Patients

What does Riverside Health Care (RHC) use my health information for?
RHC uses your information for the delivery of direct patient care, administration of the health care system, research, teaching, statistics, fundraising and to meet legal and regulatory requirements.

Examples of potential uses include:

  • To identify your record quickly and accurately each time you visit the hospital.
  • To provide the most appropriate treatment. Your visit to the hospital may include a number of assessments and treatments. All of this information is recorded in your chart and made available to those involved in your care. RHC keeps a history of your health information for your future care.
  • To comply with legal and regulatory requirements. For example, we collect your health information because it is required to fund health care services.
  • To improve the quality and efficiency with which we provide health care services.
  • To support RHC’s research programs. Researchers working on approved studies can have access to health information, provided that consent and privacy issues have been addressed.
  • To support RHC’s educational activities. Health information is available for teaching purposes with measures taken to protect privacy and confidentiality.
  • To share your contact information with the Riverside Foundation for Health Care. Our foundation works to support excellence in healthcare by raising funds for the purchase of medical equipment, the support of patient/client services and the improvement of medical facilities.

Can I request the RHC not collect or use my health information for any of the following purposes: the delivery of patient care, the administration of the health care system, to conduct research, teaching, statistics, meeting legal and regulatory requirements or fundraising?
RHC cannot adequately deliver care without the necessary information. For more information or to request a copy of the Privacy Policy, please contact the Privacy Officer (807)274-3261 ext. 4664

RHC's Medical Residents, Medical Clinical Clerks and other Health Care Professional Students (Nursing, Physiotherapy, Occupational Health, etc.) use health information for the purposes of research, teaching and practical learning experiences. RHC personnel may only collect and use the minimum amount of information necessary to fulfill the requirements for an approved study or purpose. Before researchers may access this information, RHC removes as much identifying information as possible. For example, you would always be asked if you want to be in a clinical trial, or any other research that may have a direct impact on your care.

RHC is required to report certain pieces of information to the Provincial Ministry of Health (billing information), the Canadian Institute for Health Information (coded discharge abstracts), Health Canada (public health surveillance), and Cancer Care Ontario (pathology reports). This is done to ensure the health care system is running optimally, and to conduct statistical comparisons of population health characteristics over a broad geographical range.

The collection, uses, disclosures and retentions described above are required as an ongoing component of RHC’s ability to provide health care to the population it serves, while working to enhance the health status of Canadians.

Who does RHC give my health information to?
RHC is required to disclose patient information to several other organizations. This includes the Ministry of Health, The Canadian Institute for Health Information, Public Health and Cancer Care Ontario.  Information may also be disclosed to other physicians directly involved in the administering of care to our patients. RHC places appropriate safeguards on the release of all information disclosed to other organizations and seeks to ensure that all health information protection measures are in place and in accordance with the Ontario Health Information Protection Act.

Does RHC ever sell patient information to drug companies or anyone else?
RHC does not sell patient information to drug companies or anyone else.

Will RHC disclose my health information to any outside company or my employer?
RHC requires patient consent, or a court order to disclose health information to any organization or person not directly involved with the provision of patient care. RHC will ensure that proper controls are in place to only disclose what is required.

Can I access my health information?
You have the right to access your personal health information, and RHC has an obligation to make it available to you, with limited exceptions. Exceptions are made if releasing your information would put yourself or a third party at risk, RHC may choose not to disclose some, or all that information.

Where do I go to access my health information?
When you are a patient at RHC, you should ask your healthcare provider for information that you want to know. If your request is voluminous or substantial, or not covered by the information available to the attending healthcare provider, you will be referred to Health Records. After you have left RHC you will need to contact Health Records to obtain or view your RHC patient record. Please allow a reasonable amount of time for RHC to locate your record.

Health Records will ask you to present the proper form of identification in order for you to access your chart. You may access your own personal information however, you may not access third party information, information about individuals other than yourself, that may be in your patient chart. If your chart contains third party information, it may take up to 30 days to have this information removed from your chart so that you may review it.

There is no charge for access, but there is a processing fee associated with requesting a photocopy of the chart.

Can my family see my health information?
Although you have the right to access your charts, this does not automatically extend to family members and/or friends. If you consent to let a friend or family member see your chart, then the friend/family member may access the part(s) that you have consented to let them see.

What if I am unable to give consent?
If you are unable to give consent for a friend or family member to access you chart due to reasons of competency of consciousness, the consent decision falls to the appointed substitute decision maker such as a parent or guardian. This person is bound by law to act on your behalf and must make decisions based on their belief of what you would wish to be done if you were able to decide.

Can all RHC staff access my patient record?
Only RHC staff involved in your care may access your patient record. All RHC staff are bound by a strict confidentiality agreement, which is signed as a condition of employment. This agreement seeks to ensure staff only access information on a need to know basis.

Can my family physician access my RHC health information?
RHC releases discharge summaries to family physicians. RHC will release other information to your family physician with your consent.

Can I find out who has viewed my RHC patient chart?
Yes. If you have concerns about unauthorized personnel accessing your information, you can make a request to the Privacy Office or Patient Relations to view all accesses to your RHC patient chart. The RHC Corporate Office will provide this information to you in a timely manner. If you have further concerns upon receipt of your audit report, you may make a complaint to the RHC Corporate Officer, who will pursue the issue on your behalf.

Is my health information protected?
There are three components to protecting patient information at RHC:

  1. Administrative Safeguards: The RHC Privacy Policy governs the manner in which all RHC care providers and other employees manage patient information. Furthermore, all RHC employees must sign a confidentiality agreement as a condition of employment.
  2. Physical Safeguards: RHC has a number of physical safeguards which range from locked doors to staff wearing photo identification to identify themselves as RHC employees.
  3. Technical Safeguards: RHC’s technical department upgrades the security capabilities of the patient information system on an ongoing basis. The RHC patient information system also uses passwords to protect the system from inappropriate accesses from within and a firewall to protect our system from users on the Internet

When I called the hospital to see how my family member was doing, the RHC staff would not describe what the problem with my family member was or the condition. Why is that?
When you call RHC, the staff has no way to verify that you are who you say you are. Therefore, in order to protect patient privacy, only a minimal amount of information is given out over the phone.

I have noticed that many areas of the hospital are open and I can sometimes overhear staff talking to patients of family about health information. Is this not breach of patient privacy?
Despite the pressures of an acute care hospital setting, staff make every effort to discuss health information confidentially.

Where is my RHC patient record stored and for how long?
Patient Records are stored in the Health Records Department with the exception of some Ambulatory Care Records (Rehab Services, Clinical Nutrition and Chiropody), which are kept in a secured location within the Department where the care is being provided. Records are kept indefinitely however they may be purged and placed on microfiche 10 years after the visit date. The microfiche is then filed within their record.

Contact: Privacy Officer (807) 274-3261 ext 4689