News release

Personal Health Information Legislation Introduced

Nova Scotians' personal health information will be better protected with a Personal Health Information Act introduced today, Nov. 9.

"We are committed to providing better health care, sooner to Nova Scotians," said Health Minister Maureen MacDonald. "Enabling health-care providers to share information more quickly, through electronic health records as one example, will help deliver on this commitment.

"This legislation will allow for information sharing and support better care, while ensuring that a patient's privacy is better protected."

The act will provide consistent rules for the management of personal health information. Personal health information is now governed by a mix of federal and provincial legislation, health profession codes, and organizational policies and procedures.

Nova Scotia joins eight other provinces who have comprehensive legislation to manage personal health information.

The legislation sets out rules on how information is collected, used, disclosed, retained, and destroyed by the health-care sector in Nova Scotia. It better supports a system that uses electronic, as well as paper health records, and support a seamless flow of information within a person's circle of care.

Rules for sharing patient lists with hospital foundations remain unchanged. Patients and their family members must continue to give their consent before this occurs.

"Our foundations do important work, and contribute significantly to the health care our hospitals provide," said Ms. MacDonald. "At the same time, we must be sensitive to the anxiety patients and families feel when someone is sick. Before access to personal information is given for fundraising purposes, we need to be sure we have a patient's or family's consent."

Specific rules include provisions for privacy breach notification, audit reports to track who has had access to electronic health records, and a process for people to request access to their health information.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Nova Scotians can feel confident that their personal health information will be better protected.

The government introduced a new Personal Health Information Act in the House of Assembly today (November 9th).

Health Minister Maureen MacDonald says the legislation will allow for information sharing and support better care, while better protecting patient privacy.

Rules for sharing patient lists with hospital foundations remain unchanged. The minister says that while foundations do important work, government must ensure that patients are not contacted for fundraising purposes without their consent.

Nova Scotia joins eight other provinces with comprehensive legislation to manage personal health information.

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Media Contact:

Nicole Watkins Campbell
Department of Health 902-424-8840 E-mail: