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In the public interest: disclosing confidential patient information for the health or safety of others

Ferris LE. Health Law Can. 1998; 18(4):119-126.


Protection of the privacy of personal health records is an important issue to both health care professionals and the public. Newly proposed legislation on this issue from the Ontario Ministry of Health embraces two principles: 1) protection of the confidentiality of individually identifiable medical information; and 2) allowance for access to or release of information in specific circumstances in the interest of public health. This paper discusses one of the permitted disclosures outlined in the proposed Act: 'A health information custodian may disclose personal health information for the purposes of eliminating or reducing a risk to an individual's health or safety if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the risk is significant'.

Keywords: Health information privacy Patient confidentiality

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