Minimizing the Risk of Abandoned Health Records Through Succession Planning

Planning is an essential part of preparing for the inevitable changes in life. If you are a health care practitioner, a good succession plan can ensure that you protect the people you serve from an interruption to their health care or a breach of their privacy if you change your practice.

Every year the IPC receives complaints related to abandoned records. These complaints are distressing for those whose privacy is compromised, and time-consuming for my office to investigate and settle. The IPC recently conducted a cross-jurisdictional review of this complex issue and found the cause of abandoned records is typically an unexpected change in practice — when a health care practitioner retires or moves, becomes incapacitated or dies unexpectedly.

As a result of our review, the IPC has released a new fact sheet, Succession Planning to Prevent Abandoned Records. This document outlines some best practices for health information custodians to prevent abandoned records and their associated repercussions.

Health information custodians have obligations under Ontario’s privacy laws to protect the information in their custody.  Changes happen. When they do, a succession plan can help you ensure the health information in your care is secure.

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