You may disclose health information to a police service without the individual’s consent if you believe that the information relates to the possible commission of an offence under a statute of Alberta or Canada and will either:
- Detect, limit, or prevent fraudulent use or abuse of the health system (HIA S.37.1), or
- Protect the health or safety of an individual (HIA S.37.3).
The disclosure must be limited to the following information, any of which may be required by police to complete the investigation:
- The individual’s name, birth date, and personal health number;
- The nature of any injury or illness of the individual;
- The date on which a health service was sought or received;
- The location where the health service was sought or received;
- The name of any drug provided or prescribed to the individual, and the date the drug was provided or prescribed;
- Whether any samples of bodily substances were taken from the individual, or
- Information about the health provider who provided the service.
Document the disclosure on the individual’s record and keep it for at least 10 years.
This is an indirect collection; it is allowable if the patient is incapacitated and not reasonably able to present and fill their prescriptions themselves, or if the family member is an authorized representative (e.g., parent of a minor). Otherwise, you will need some reasonable indication that the patient has authorized the family member to provide you with their health information.
A good practice is to get from the patient, the first time they are able to be present, the names of others who might provide or receive information on their behalf. Otherwise, the fact that the patient is covered by the family member’s health insurance may be a good indicator that the person is acting on the patient’s behalf.
If there is any doubt about the information or status of the person providing the information, contact the patient directly before completing the collection.
Can pharmacy professionals require that patients provide them with their driver’s licence in order to verify their identity?
Yes, you may ask to see identification such as a driver’s licence in order to confirm their identity, but should not record it as it would not be a collection under the HIA.
Whenever there is a disclosure of health information within or outside the circle of care, the pharmacy professional responsible must ensure that the following information is logged about the transaction and that it is retained for at least 10 years:
- Name of person to whom information disclosed;
- Date and purpose; and
- Description of information disclosed.
This information may be kept as a separate disclosure log (paper-based or electronic) or may simply be any documentation kept in a record that provides the same data whenever it is subsequently requested.
Note: You do not have to log the disclosure if you upload the information onto Netcare. The requirement to make a note does not apply to custodians that permit other custodians electronic access when the electronic system (e.g., Netcare) automatically keeps an electronic log of the information listed.
How should I handle the disclosure of prescription receipts, releasing a prescription to a family member?
In cases such as tax receipts and other non-continuing care matters, the person requesting the information must be an authorized representative of the patient, which includes:
- Guardian of a minor who is not competent to understand their rights (careful with minors aged 14-18!);
- Personal representative for the administration of a deceased individual’s estate, for estate purposes;
- Guardian or trustee under the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act;
- Agent under the Personal Directives Act;
- Attorney under power of attorney;
- Nearest relative of a formal patient under the Mental Health Act;
- Person with written authorization from the individual to act on the individual’s behalf.
Be sure to verify the status of the recipient. If they are not an authorized representative, you will need the written consent of the patient before you disclose the information.
Document the disclosure unless it was to an authorized representative, and keep it for at least 10 years.
You may deal with the patient’s agent if you are satisfied that dealing with a patient’s agent rather than directly with the patient is in the best interest of the patient. Some factors that you may take into account in making this decision are:
- the patient’s express wishes,
- the patient’s health,
- the patient’s age,
- the patient’s mental state or capacity, and
- the patient’s absence from the pharmacy.