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Privacy FAQs

How can I get a copy of my patient record?
I would like to talk to the hospital about a privacy concern. Who do I contact?
When I am a patient at Guelph General Hospital (GGH), a lot of information is collected about me. What is the information used for?
Does GGH ever sell patient information to drug companies, or anyone else?
Do I have access to my health information? If so, how can I access my health information at the hospital?
Can my family see my health information?
What if I am unable to give consent for another person to access my health record?
Can all GGH staff access my patient record?
Can my family physician access my GGH health information?
Can I find out who has viewed my GGH patient health record?
Is my health information available on the Internet?
How is my health information protected?
When I called the hospital to see how my family member was doing, the GGH staff would not describe what the problem with my family member was or their condition. Why is that?
I have noticed that many areas of the hospital are open and I can sometimes overhear staff talking to patients or family about health information. Is this not a breach of patient privacy?
Where are my GGH records and for how long?

Q. How can I get a copy of my patient record?
A: Download and fill in the
Consent to Disclosure of Personal Health Information form. It describes the process, fee schedule and turnaround time.

Q. I would like to talk to the hospital about a privacy concern. Who do I contact?
A. You are welcome to contact our Chief Privacy Officer, Valerie Anderson, at 519-837-6440 x 2273 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">'+addy_text6246+'<\/a>'; //-->

Q. When I am a patient at Guelph General Hospital (GGH), a lot of information is collected about me. What is the information used for?
A. 
The information collected is used for the following purposes:

  • Your patient care and treatment;
  • Administration of the hospital, including internal studies for quality assurance and patient satisfaction surveys;
  • Administration of the health care system, where your information is submitted to the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) and the provincial Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care;
  • Meeting legal and regulatory requirements;

The provincial government’s goal is to provide Ontarians with an electronic health record for continuity of care. Your patient information will be stored securely on the hospital system and shared health information databases, including;

Clinical Connect and Diagnostic Imaging Repository (DIr) 

Only authorized Health Care providers will be able to access this information on a “need to know” basis to provide patient care.

GGH is required by law to report certain pieces of information about our patients to health care agencies, including the following: the provincial Ministry of Health (billing information), the Canadian Institute for Health Information (coded discharge abstracts), Public Health and Health Canada (public health surveillance), and Cancer Care Ontario (pathology reports). This is done to ensure the health care system is running optimally, and to conduct statistical comparisons of population health characteristics over a broad geographical range.

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Q. Does GGH ever sell patient information to drug companies, or anyone else?
A. No, GGH does not sell patient information to drug companies or to anyone else.

Q. Do I have access to my health information? If so, how can I access my health information at the hospital?
A. When you are a patient at GGH, you can ask your health care provider for your health information. The health care providers will work together with you to answer your questions, and provide access to your health information.


After you have left the Hospital, you are welcome to contact the Clinical Information Services department at 837-6440 ext 2719. You will be asked to sign a consent form for the release of information.

Our standard practice is to send a copy of your health record to your family doctor. Your family doctor will then review the health record with you and answer your questions. This process has worked well for patients.

 Q. Can my family see my health information?
A. We require your express consent to share any of your health information with a friend or family member.

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Q. What if I am unable to give consent for another person to access my health record?
A. If you are unable to give consent for a friend or family member to access your chart due to reasons of competency or consciousness, the consent decision falls to the appointed substitute decision maker such as a parent or guardian. This person is bound by law to act on your behalf, who must make decisions based on their belief of what you would wish done if you were able to decide.

Q. Can all GGH staff access my patient record?
A. Only GGH staff involved in your care may access your patient record. All GGH staff are bound by a strict confidentiality agreement, which is signed as a condition of employment. This agreement seeks to ensure staff only access information on a need-to-know basis to do their work.

Q. Can my family physician access my GGH health information?
A. GGH releases discharge summaries to family physicians as directed by the Most Responsible Physician during your stay at Hospital. GGH will release other information to your family physician with your consent.

Q. Can I find out who has viewed my GGH patient health record?
A. If you wish to know who accessed your health record, you can make a request to the Chief Privacy Officer to obtain an audit report. Our Chief Privacy Officer can be reached at 519-837-6440 extension 2273.

Q. Is my health information available on the Internet?
A. No, health information is not publicly available on the Internet. Your personal health information is stored in a secure hospital information computer system.

Q. How is my health information protected?
A. Administrative Safeguards: The hospital’s Privacy Policy governs how all Guelph General Hospital care providers and staff manage patient information. All hospital staff (employees, physicians and volunteers) must sign a Confidentiality Agreement as a condition of employment and must complete a Privacy and Confidentiality of
Personal Health Information elearning module on an annual basis. Regular audits are conducted to monitor adherence to the strict privacy and confidentiality standards.

Physical Safeguards: The hospital has a number of physical safeguards which range from locked doors to staff wearing photo identification to identify themselves as GGH employees.

Technical Safeguards: The hospital’s Information Management Department upgrades the security capabilities of the patient information systems on an ongoing basis.  The hospital has implemented access controls for staff, which are based on the staff member’s job role. This access control limits the staff members’ access to electronic health records on a need-to-know basis to perform their job duties. The hospital’s computer patient information system uses passwords to protect the system from inappropriate access from within the Hospital. Finally, a firewall is in place to protect our information systems from external unauthorized access.

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Q. When I called the hospital to see how my family member was doing, the GGH staff would not describe what the problem with my family member was or their condition. Why is that?
A.
As a provider of healthcare services to the residents of the City of Guelph and surrounding area, the Hospital collects, uses and discloses personal health information (PHI) under the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) and is committed to protecting the privacy, confidentiality and security of all PHI to which it is entrusted. In doing so, Guelph General Hospital implemented a Privacy Code Programme. A privacy code number is given to every inpatient with the following instructions:

Privacy Code Instructions for Patients:
Please give this Privacy Code to one (1) spokesperson.  When the spokesperson calls us with your name and the Privacy Code, we will answer their questions about your stay in hospital.

Privacy Code Instructions for family member or friend:
Please give the patient’s name and Privacy Code to the health care team member when you call the hospital.  This allows the hospital to answer your questions about the patient’s stay in hospital.

Hospital Phone # 519-837-6440

Q. I have noticed that many areas of the hospital are open and I can sometimes overhear staff talking to patients or family about health information. Is this not a breach of patient privacy?
A. There are inherent limitations to the Hospital’s physical environment. Many areas, such as nursing stations, are in public spaces. Despite these physical limitations and the pressures of an acute care hospital setting, staff will take precautions and make every effort to discuss health information confidentially.

Q. Where are my GGH records and for how long?
A. All patient records are stored on site at the Hospital. The records may be stored electronically on computers, on microfilm, or the original paper documents are maintained.

GGH meets all legal requirements for record retention periods – the Public Hospitals Act requires health records to be maintained for a minimum 10 years. However, GGH maintains most health record documents indefinitely in order to respond to other requirements including: continuing patient care, personal enquiries, research activities and legal proceedings.

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