Health Information Act Amendments
October 20, 2010

On Sept. 1, 2010, a number of changes to the Health Information Act (HIA) in Alberta came into force.  This act deals with complex issues concerning the collection, use, disclosure and protection of health information used in the health-care system. Patients want to feel confident that their health information is safeguarded and accessed and disclosed appropriately.

 

Health-care facilities within the health-care system are custodians and for most registered nurses the policies and processes of the health care organization provide direction on the access and disclosure of health information. The scope of the act has now changed and it has been expanded to include health information regardless of where a registered nurse practices or how a health service has been paid. 

Key amendments to the Act include:  

  • expansion of scope to include all health information regardless of how a health service has been paid

  • regulated members of health professions are now designated as custodians through regulation.  The current designations include physicians, pharmacists, optometrists, opticians, chiropractors, midwives, podiatrists, dentists, denturists, dental hygienists and registered nurses.  However, application of the act has been deferred until March 1, 2011 for dentists and dental hygienists and until Sept.1, 2011 for registered nurses

  • new Alberta Electronic Health Record (known as “Netcare”) provisions that clarify health services providers obligations to protect electronic health information

  • new role for professional colleges and associations to decide what health information should be made available in the Alberta Electronic Health Record

  • clarification of a health services provider’s obligation to consider an individual’s wish about limiting the use and disclosure of health information (e.g. masking of electronic health information) and an individual’s right to request a log of who has accessed it

Educational resources for use by registered nurses will be available in the near future so that registered nurses will have the information they need to help them understand the requirements of being a custodian under HIA. CARNA will provide further information as it becomes available.