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Get ready for PHIA

November 26, 2010

“The Personal Health Information Act will affect doctors in their day-to-day practice across the province and they need to get their offices ready for it today.”

That is the message from Dr. Robert Young, Registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Young said that doctors already take steps to protect the personal health information of their patients and those patients have a right to access their own information. “The difference,” he said, “is that the new Act sets rules for the collection, storage and use of personal health information that apply in both the public and private sectors. The College expects the new Act will come into force in early 2011.

“Doctors need to review their office procedures now,” said Dr. Young. “They should make sure they and their staff know the new rules, set new policies and make sure certain staff have the training they need before the Act comes into effect.” Dr. Young said doctors and their staff can find information on the new Act from the College’s website  and from the Department of Health and Community Services’ website.

Dr. Young said that the College website contains links to:

• Basic information on the Personal Health Information Act,
• Online education programs,
• A policy development tool kit to help doctors develop new office policies, and
• A checklist to help doctors confirm their office is ready for the new Act.

Dr. Young said the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner will be responsible for investigating complaints under the Act. Anyone found guilty of breaking the new Act could face fines up to $10,000 or six months in jail.

The new rules will also affect retired doctors, according to Dr. Young. “Retired doctors who have patient files or who have contracted a third party to manage their patient files will also have to ensure they are ready for the new patient personal health information rules,” said Dr. Young. “All the information the department offers will also help retired doctors comply with the new Act.”