At Odyssey Health Services, maintaining your privacy and confidentiality is extremely important to us. All of the information that we gather about you, in the interview, in various meetings, and from other health care professionals, is gathered with your explicit consent. It is maintained in your file, under the control of our professional staff and is released only with your consent (with the exceptions noted below). For example, if medical records are released to us by your health care providers, they are not provided to the insurer or employer who referred you. Our report(s) may summarize the relevant information from such records. The actual medical records, however, are retained in our file and would be released to another party only with your consent (see exceptions). Reports are provided to third parties and to other health care professionals only with your written consent (see exceptions).
Administrative staff will be involved in activities such as typing, proofreading, copying, filing, receiving and sending mail and receiving and placing phone calls. These staff are trained to adhere to all professional standards. When information has to be mailed, emailed or faxed, appropriate caution is exercised to ensure accuracy of destination addresses and numbers and that receiving health care professionals exercise appropriate protection of privacy. Considerable efforts are made to ensure that methods of information transmission are secure and protected from tampering.
Odyssey Health Services considers it important to continue to analyze the effectiveness of the interventions that we undertake. Therefore, we may, from time to time, summarize our data in papers that are submitted for scientific or professional publication. This involves extracting data from individuals’ files in a way that their anonymity is protected and no individual, or their particular circumstances, can be identified. Demographics (e.g. average age, gender distribution, average length of time off work) and group outcomes (e.g. average change in an individual’s function, proportion of individuals who return to work, average length of treatment) are typically summarized in such papers. Such publications allow for examination of our methodology and outcome statistics by the scientific community, without compromising an individual’s right to privacy. Your data may be included in such analyses, but always in a way that your individual privacy is protected.
Your insurer (including various automobile insurers, workers’ compensation boards and long-term disability carriers) or employer may require that you consent to the provision of reports to them or your access to benefits or employment may be affected. You should ensure that you understand any such consequences to withholding consent, and we will make every effort to ensure that you understand such circumstances. In some cases if you deny us your consent to communicate with your other health care professionals, we may not be able to continue with our assessment or treatment, because we feel that a specific communication is vital to proper clinical practice. We would advise you of this and if you still wish to withhold consent we would not proceed under such circumstances.
Exceptions to strict confidentiality
- There are statutory requirements that oblige us to report circumstances where we feel a child may be at risk, where there is suspected elder abuse or where an individual has been sexually abused by a regulated health care professional.
- If we feel an individual is an immediate risk to her or himself or to others we may have an ethical obligation to break confidentiality in order to protect the life of the individual or others.
- We may be ordered by the courts or police (through a court ordered search warrant) to produce records that the court feels it or the police require.
- Our regulatory bodies do have the legal authority to appoint investigators to audit a health care professional’s conduct and practice, in order to ensure that appropriate professional standards are being met. They do have the legal authority, in certain cases, to audit an individual’s file as part of such an investigation without obtaining the individual’s consent or notifying the individual.
- In certain cases, if an individual has been injured at work, or in a motor vehicle accident, where payment for treatment services, or income replacement benefits are available from a government body such as a Workers’ Compensation Board, legislation may permit the government empowered body to demand reports respecting the screening and treatment by certain health care practitioners of conditions deemed relevant to that body (e.g. work-related injuries or automobile accident related injuries) without the written consent of the individual.
- In rare cases, the third party paying for treatment may request an independent audit to ensure that the services they have paid for have been rendered in an appropriate manner. This would be carried out by an independent regulated health care professional, such as a physician or psychologist who is not an employee of either Odyssey Health Services or the third party payer and who is bound by all the same professional obligations as we are. They would not disclose specific clinical information but rather simply confirm that services have been rendered in accordance with accepted professional standards.