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November 5, 2020

Your personal health information is protected under the law. Here’s what you need to know about accessing your information from an Optician

In 2004, the Ontario Government introduced the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) to ensure clarity and consistency amongst all health care providers when it comes to the collection, use, disclosure, and protection of your personal health information.

Personal Health Information is any identifying information about your physical or mental health that a health practitioner collects throughout the course of your relationship with them. This includes, but is not limited to, your health history, insurance information, ocular measurements, tests, and lab results. 

Like any other healthcare practitioner who is delivering health care services in Ontario, your optician must comply with this law. 

You have a right to obtain your personal health information from an Optician 

Under the act, an optician must comply with your request within a reasonable time frame and definitely within 30 days if your request is made in writing. You should also know:

  • A verbal request may not be enough; an optician may require that your request be made in writing. This is often done so the optician can confirm a patient’s identity or that the person requesting the information has the patient’s consent (if they are not the patient themselves).
  • An optician has the right to charge a fee for providing you with your personal health information. The purpose of the fee is to cover the costs of reviewing and copying the record, and it must be reasonable. 
  • An optician may deny your access, but only if the refusal is permitted under section 52 of the act (for example, where there is a risk of serious bodily harm).
  • If an optician leaves a practice, they have a responsibility to notify you of who they will be transferring your personal health information to, which may be directly to you, or to another optician or an optometrist.
  • Some opticians practice collaboratively with an optometrist.  The optician can only provide records for the services they provided you. If you require records from your eye examination, you should request these directly from your eye doctor. 

Opticians have a duty to keep your information safe and report any privacy breaches 

Opticians must take steps to keep your personal health information safe from loss, theft, or unauthorized disclosure. In the event of a privacy breach, the rules are clear: an optician must report the breach as soon as reasonably possible.  For Opticians, the report must be made to:

•    You, the patient
•    The College of Opticians of Ontario
•    The Information and Privacy Commissioner 

You have a say in how your personal health information is collected and used 

Other important information for you to know about PHIPA includes:

•    You have a right to ask questions and be told by your optician why your personal health information is being collected
•    You have the right to request corrections to your health record

If you have concerns about an Optician’s conduct with respect to your personal health information, please contact us by email at complaints@collegeofopticians.ca or by phone at (416) 368-3616 or visit the College’s website to learn more about the complaints process.


 


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