Frequently Asked Questions

If you have other questions or concerns, please contact the Privacy Office.


Privacy Office for London Health Sciences Center:
Telephone: (519) 685-8500, Extension 32996
E-mail: Privacy@lhsc.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?


What if some of the information in my health record is incorrect?


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?


I have noticed that many areas of the hospital are open and I can sometimes overhear staff talking to patients and family about health information. Is this not a breach of patient privacy?


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?


London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) collects both personal and health information. 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.
  • Unless you request otherwise, we may provide limited information to individuals who contact the hospital asking about you. For example, we may confirm that you are a patient at the hospital, your room number and a general, high level condition report such as “good, fair, serious or critical”
    • If you do not wish your presence at the hospital acknowledged, please notify Patient Registration when you arrive or inform your healthcare provider. If you request this, anyone calling or attending at the hospital would be told that we have no information on a patient by that name. This does not affect the use of your information for other purposes, e.g. to provide you health care.
  • 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, e.g.:
    • The law requires hospitals to disclose 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. The hospital does not release your health information, e.g. your diagnosis or treatment, to the Foundation.
  • For research. London is fortunate to have many brilliant health care researchers who have developed new treatments and technologies. Where permitted by law, some research using de-identified information is conducted without the consent of the patient. 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 to keep existing health care practitioners up-to-date, and to train new health care practitioners. St Joseph’s is affiliated with the University of Western Ontario, 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:

  • Educating our staff, physicians, volunteers and students on the importance of respecting your privacy rights and about their obligations to maintain 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; e.g., user-specific log in names and passwords, encryption requirements, 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 need information for ongoing care in the community.
  • Agencies that fund the hospital, e.g. OHIP, extended health insurance companies, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Ministry of Health.
  • Other agencies to whom we are required by law to provide information, e.g. for public health surveillance.

LHSC is partnered with organizations in Southwestern Ontario in a shared electronic patient record system and in shared diagnostic imaging (X-ray) systems. These partnerships will help us provide you health care regardless of where you seek treatment.

What systems do you share and with whom?

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

LHSC 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 deeply appreciated but not mandatory. The London Health Sciences Foundation has worked for many years to raise funds for vitally needed equipment and facilities to provide the community with quality health care. Without the generosity of our donors, we would not have these services. Contact the Privacy Office if you wish to remove your name from our fundraising contact list. Alternately, complete the Request to Restrict Personal Information for Fundraising and Surveys and send to the Privacy Office.
  • LHSC uses 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.
  • LHSC is a teaching health care institution. The hospital provides clinical experience for student physicians, nurses and a variety of other allied health care professionals. The students work 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 appreciated, but not mandatory. You can decline participation and/or request to be removed from the hospital’s survey list by contacting the Privacy Office.

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

Unless the disclosure if permitted or required by law, 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 your care.

Where is my health information stored and for how long?


LHSC is legally required to keep a patient’s health record for at least 10 years past the date of the last admission. There are situations, e.g. health records of children, where the hospital is required to keep a record longer. Contact Health Record Services or the Privacy Office for information about retention of 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 LHSC.
  • You have the right to access your personal health record and the hospital has an obligation to make it available to you with limited exceptions.
  • To inquire about obtaining a copy of, or about viewing your London Health Sciences Centre health record, please contact the Health Record Services.

What if some of the information in my health record is incorrect?


Please see How Do I Correct My Personal Health Information section.

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 provide written authorization for a friend or family member to 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?


Like consenting to treatment, if you are unable to give consent for access, use and/or disclosure of your health information, 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?


Unless you request otherwise, we will provide limited information, e.g. to acknowledge that you are a patient at the hospital, your room number and a high level condition report. We do not provide a lot of information over the phone because we have no way to verify who is calling and what their relationship is to you.

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 the Privacy Office to audit your electronic hospital record. An audit is a process that tracks every access to 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 Privacy Office. You will be asked to verify your identity by providing a government-issued ID that has your signature.

I have noticed that many areas of the hospital are open and I can sometimes overhear staff talking to patients and family about health information. Is this not a breach of patient privacy?


Despite the pressures of an acute-care hospital setting, staff makes every effort to discuss health information privately.

Can my family physician access my health information?


LHSC sends information to your family physician that is listed in your health record, e.g. inpatient discharge summaries, Urgent Care records, to facilitate your continuing care. LHSC will provide additional information to your family physician if requested and unless you tell us otherwise.

What if I have concerns about my privacy?

Please contact the Privacy Office if you have any questions or concerns.

LHSCPatients, Families & Visitors

Last Updated February 23, 2011 | © 2007, LHSC, London Ontario Canada