N.S. privacy czar says Health Department improperly viewed and disclosed medical info

A doctor checks a patient with a stethoscope in Stuttgart, Germany, Monday, April 28, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Thomas Kienzle

Nova Scotia’s privacy commissioner says the Health Department violated the privacy rights of a participant in a program for people whose licences have been suspended for drunk driving offences.

The ruling stems from a complaint by a participant in the Driving While Impaired program who said his privacy had been violated after his personal medical information had been disclosed to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

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Information and Privacy Commissioner Tricia Ralph says the department had accessed a decade’s worth of medical visits and diagnostic results on one patient that contained “highly sensitive and potentially embarrassing information.”

His medical information was used to create a risk rating letter issued by the Health Department to the registry.

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Ralph says while the Health Department is permitted to gather information on a participant’s experience with alcohol and substance abuse, it was not authorized to use the complainant’s medical records in the way it did.

She said in the report released in June that the department wasn’t authorized to disclose the individualized risk rating to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

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