New additions to the personal health information act

Addtions include a review of the act every 5 years

The government introduced amendments today, March 31, to the Personal Health Information Act to ensure it remains current and reflects modern practices. 

“We have an obligation to Nova Scotians to protect their personal health information, even in times when that information must be shared to support and improve patient care,” said Michelle Thompson, Minister of Health and Wellness. “We are making amendments that will further strengthen the Personal Health Information Act for the benefit of patients across our healthcare system.”

In 2016, the Department initiated a review of the act that involved extensive stakeholder consultation. This review, published in 2018, found the act is achieving the right balance between protecting personal health information and recognizing the needs of those who are required to collect, use and disclose this information to provide or manage healthcare.

The review identified 35 findings, 10 of which required no change. Of the remaining 25, the Province supported 18 for implementation. These 18 recommendations resulted in seven legislative changes and a recognition that some findings would be better addressed through other initiatives.

Changes to the act include adding: 
— a definition of accreditation 
— a provision to require a substitute decision-maker to act in the best interests of the person for whom they are responsible
— a new clause to give an authorized person who is conducting an audit or review to collect personal health information without the individual’s consent if the audit is related to the services provided by a custodian
— a subsection to authorize custodians to audit records to detect privacy breaches 
— a section to authorize the Minister of Health and Wellness to conduct a review of the act every five years
— two separate minor language edits to rename subsections. 

Quick Facts: 
— the Personal Health Information Act was passed in 2010 and came into effect in 2013
— the act governs the collection, use, disclosure, retention, disposal and destruction of personal health information 
— section 109 of the act required the department to undertake a comprehensive review within three years of it coming into force; the review was done in 2016

Additional Resources:
Bills tabled in the legislature this spring are available at:

Personal Health Information Act Three-Year Review Findings:

Source: Release

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