FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

St. Joseph's Health Care, London respects the privacy of your personal health information. The following is a list of questions frequently asked. If you have other questions or concerns, please contact Privacy and Freedom of Information.

Privacy and Freedom of Information for St. Joseph's Health Care, London:
Telephone: 519 646-6100 ext. 65591
E-mail: privacy@sjhc.london.on.ca

What information does the hospital collect?
Why does the hospital need this information?
How does the hospital protect my information?
Does the hospital share my information with anyone?
What systems do you share and with whom?
Do I have to participate in fundraising, research, teaching and surveys?
Will the hospital disclose my health information to outside companies or to my employer?
Where is my health information stored and for how long?
How do I access or request a copy of my health information?
Can my family see my health information?
What if I am unable to give consent to release my health information?
Will my family and friends be able to call in to get information about me over the phone?
Can all hospital staff access my health information?
Can I find out who has viewed my hospital record?
Can my family physician access my health information?
What if I have concerns about who has accessed my health information or other privacy concerns?


What information does the hospital collect?

St. Joseph's Health Care London (St. Joseph's) collects both personal and health information. Information like your name, date of birth, address, Health Card Number and extended health insurance numbers are examples of personal information. Information relating to previous health problems, the record of your visits to the hospital and what health care we provide to you during those visits are examples of your health information.

Why does the hospital need this information?

The information we collect from you is used:

  • To provide you with quality health care and follow-up care in the community. We need your information to make sure we can make the appropriate diagnosis and provide treatment.
  • To release very limited information to family and friends who may call, for example to find out what room you are in. We may provide generalized condition reports such as “good, fair, serious or critical” to other individuals who are not immediate family. If you do not wish your name to be included in the Patient Information list, please notify Patient Registration when you arrive or inform your healthcare provider. This would mean that if anyone called in asking about you, they would be informed that we have no one by that name on our patient list.
  • To carry out quality assurance to help make us better. By reviewing the care we provide to patients we can determine what strategies are most successful.
  • To ask you how we are doing. You may be asked to participate in surveys by either the hospital or by specific programs or departments in the hospital that participated in your care.
  • To comply with the law. The law requires hospitals to turn over your personal health information if there is a legal investigation. We also use your information to obtain funding for health services from the Ministry of Health.
  • For fundraising. Your name and address are provided to the hospital’s Foundation so they may contact you to see if you wish to make a donation. Donations by our patients and members of the community raise money for equipment and facilities to provide you with the most modern health care services. The hospital does not provide names of patients who have certain more sensitive procedures or diagnoses to the Foundation. Your personal health information, for example, your diagnosis or treatment, is not released to the Foundation.
  • For research. London is fortunate to have many brilliant health care researchers who have developed new treatments and technologies. Some research is conducted without the consent of the patient if permitted by law. Other forms of research require your permission to participate. You are under no obligation to agree to this research, and the care you receive will not be impacted in any way if you decline.
  • For education in order to keep existing health care practitioners up-to-date, and to train new health care practitioners for the future. St. Joseph's is associated with Western University, Fanshawe College and other educational institutions that train health care professionals. Education is part of the mission of the hospital.

How does the hospital protect my information?

A few of the ways that the hospital strives to protect both your personal information and your personal health information are by:

  • Stressing to our staff, physicians, volunteers and students the importance of respecting your privacy rights and the importance of maintaining confidentiality.
  • Requiring that all staff wear photo identification at all times while on hospital property to protect against unauthorized individuals accessing information.
  • Applying additional security measures to all electronic health records; for example, user names and passwords, firewall and antivirus software.
  • Locked doors,
  • Security personnel.

Does the hospital share my information with anyone?

We share some or all of your information with:

  • Health care providers at other hospitals, nursing homes or other health care agencies who become part of your health care team. Information is shared for the purpose of your continuing care in the community.
  • Agencies that fund the hospital, for example OHIP, extended health insurance companies, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Ministry of Health.
  • Other agencies as required by law, for example, public health surveillance.

What systems do you share and with whom?

See the web site for the Regional Shared Service (RSS) for more information on our partnerships across Southwest Ontario and how your information is protected.

St Joseph’s shares the following systems with the hospitals listed for each system:

  • Electronic Patient Record (EPR)
    • Our EPR houses information about you and the health care you receive at each hospital. Only those staff and affiliates who may need access to information about your visits to other hospitals are granted this broader level of access.
    • Examples of information stored in the EPR are:
      • demographic information, e.g. your name, address, phone number, Health Card Number,
      • a list of visits to each partnered organization that includes the date of the visit, type, e.g. inpatient or outpatient, the medical service you visited, e.g. Orthopedics, the Attending Physician for that visit and a brief description for the reason for the visit.
      • documentation that has been dictated through the hospital’s central dictation system. Examples of this documentation are discharge summaries, clinic notes, notes from a surgical procedure, called an operative summary.
      • Diagnostic tests, e.g. laboratory and x-ray tests and their results.
    • Picture Archive Communication System (PACS)
      • PACS is the system that collects demographic information about you, physicians’ orders for the x-rays, the x-ray images and reports of the findings. Only those staff and affiliates who require this type of information have access to PACS, e.g. Physicians, Nurses, Radiology Technicians.
    • Digital Imaging Repository (DI-r)
      • A DI-r is a system that collects a copy of x-ray images, demographic information, physician orders for the tests as well as the reports of the findings from each of the PAC systems from the partnered organizations.  Only those staff and affiliates who require this type of information have access to PACS, e.g. Physicians, Nurses, Radiology Technicians.

Do I have to participate in fundraising, research, teaching and surveys?

  • Participation in fundraising is not mandatory. Contact the Privacy and Freedom of Information to request that your name be removed from our fundraising contact list.
  • St. Joseph's may provide health information for the purpose of research. Researchers may use this information for research purposes without patient consent where the law permits them to do so. Other forms of research, such as clinical trials or clinical investigation that may have a direct impact on your care, requires your specific permission. A member of your health care team may ask your permission for a researcher, who is affiliated with the hospital, to approach you about a clinical research trial. If you agree, the researcher would provide you with information about the research and ask if you would like to participate. Many research projects give participants access to new treatments and technologies. You are under no obligation to participate in this type of research, and you can refuse when asked. The care you receive will not be impacted in any way if you decline.
  • St. Joseph's is a teaching health care institution. The hospital provides clinical experience for student physicians, nurses and a variety of other health care professionals. The students are constantly under the direction of a licensed practitioner. If you have concerns about the participation of students in your care, please speak to your physician or Leader in the area where you are receiving your care.
  • Surveys help the hospital by allowing us to get your opinion on the care and services you receive as a patient. Participation in the surveys is not mandatory and you can decline participation and/or request to be removed from the hospital’s survey list by contacting Privacy and Freedom of Information.

Will the hospital disclose my health information to outside companies or to my employer?

The hospital requires your written permission or a court order to disclose health information to any organization or person not directly involved with the provision of patient care.

Where is my health information stored and for how long?

St. Joseph's is required to keep health records for at least 10 years past the date of the last admission. In some cases, for example health records for children and records maintained for the purpose of research, health records are kept for much longer. Most health records are maintained in the Health Records department, but some departments, including Diagnostic Imaging and Laboratories, maintain their own specific records.

How do I access or request a copy of my health information?

  • Ask your health care provider for information about your diagnosis and treatment while you are a patient at St. Joseph's.
  • To obtain a copy of, or view your St. Joseph's health record, please contact Health Records.
  • You may request your personal health information through Health Records and have the right to access your personal health record and the hospital has an obligation to make it available to you with limited exceptions. If releasing your information would put yourself or a third-party at risk, the hospital has a legal right to choose not to disclose some or all of that information.

Can my family see my health information?

Although you have the right to access your health record, this right does not automatically extend to family members and/or friends. If you consent to let a friend or family member see your record, then the friend/family member may access the part(s) that you have consented to let them see.

What if I am unable to give consent to release my health information?

If you are unable to give consent for a friend or family member to access your health information due to reasons such as competency or consciousness, the consent decision falls to the appointed substitute decision maker, such as a spouse, parent or guardian.

Will my family and friends be able to call in to get information about me over the phone?

When someone calls the hospital, staff have no way to verify who is calling and what their relationship is to you. Normally, in order to protect patient privacy, only a minimum amount of information is given out over the phone.

Can all hospital staff access my health information?

The only persons whom the hospital authorizes to access a patient record are the staff and physicians involved in a patient's care, or staff who need information from a patient record to conduct the business of the hospital, e.g., the Finance department staff that sends a bill to a patient's extended health insurance company. All staff and hospital affiliates are bound by hospital policies and practices related to Privacy and Confidentiality. These policies aim to ensure that staff only access information on a need-to-know basis. Regulated Health Professionals are also bound by privacy and confidentiality requirements from their professional Colleges.

Can I find out who has viewed my hospital record?

Yes. If you have concerns about unauthorized personnel accessing your information, you can make a request to Privacy and Freedom of Information to audit your electronic hospital record. An audit is a process that tracks every staff or physician who has accessed your electronic record by date and time. We can perform an audit on your electronic health record and a limited audit on your hardcopy health record. We will ensure that your concerns are investigated promptly and a response is provided to you in a timely manner.

If you would like to request an audit please contact the Prviacy Office. You will be asked to verify your identity by providing a government-issued ID that has your signature.

Can my family physician access my health information?

St. Joseph's releases certain information, for example, inpatient discharge summaries, Emergency Department records, to family physicians to facilitate your continuing care. Other information can be released to your family physician at your request and with your consent. If you do not want your family doctor to receive information, let Patient Registration or your health care provider know.

What if I have concerns about my privacy?

Please contact Privacy and Freedom of Information if you have any questions or concerns.

Last updated: Fri, 2017-03-24 05:35