Physician Access to Digital Records when Patients Complain

​In mid-August 2016, the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner of Alberta (OIPC) publicly reported its investigation into the alleged misuse of EHR records by two physicians who were responding to a patient complaint about the quality of their care, in the case Gowrishankar v JK. There have been developments since we last explored possible implications of this case.

The two physicians, with AHS and the AMA as interested parties, appealed the OIPC’s decision.  In January 2018, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta released its decision on the appeal.  It did not change the majority of the OIPC’s findings, but the Court did find that the physicians’ use and disclosure was in compliance with the Alberta Health Information Act.

In February 2018, the patient appealed the decision of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta to the Court of Appeal of Alberta.  While the appeal to the Court of Appeal is outstanding, the AHS policy and procedures related to the use and disclosure of health information remain the same and should be followed.
A backgrounder and FAQ express AHS’ understanding of the information and disclosure processes, along with appropriate documentation, implicated in the case and its appeal.