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Privacy Policy

Odyssey Health Services – Confidentiality and Privacy

At Odyssey Health Services, maintaining your privacy and confidentiality is extremely important to us.  We adhere to the same rules and practices of confidentiality that apply to all physicians and psychologists in the provinces in which we provide service.  All of the information that we gather about you, in 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 health care professionals and is released only with your consent (with the exceptions noted below).  In particular, the medical records that are released to us 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).

Information that you provide to us is shared with all of the clinical team, because you are being assessed and/or treated by a team of professionals rather than a single individual.  If you are referred to a specialist by our team, that specialist will be sent information about you and will report back to the remainder of the team. 

Information may also be shared with health care professionals that are part of our extended professional team whom you do not meet directly. For example our cases are discussed at a case conference attended by all of our clinical staff to ensure the highest level of care.  In some cases we may have one of our specialists review certain test results or findings to determine if he or she should be involved in further assessment of a patient.  All such individuals adhere to, and are governed by, the same laws, practices and regulations to maintain confidentiality as those individuals you actually meet with. 

Administrative staff will also be involved in activities such as typing, proofreading, copying, filing, receiving and sending mail and receiving and placing phone calls.  These staff are all trained to adhere to all professional standards and the regulated health care professionals they work for are ultimately responsible for their conduct. 

When information has to be mailed 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 analyse 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:

1. There are statutory requirements that oblige us to report circumstances where we feel a child may be at risk, or where an individual has been sexually abused by a regulated health care professional.

2. In some provinces, legislation requires health care professionals to report to the ministry responsible for the licensing of drivers the circumstances of any individual that has a medical condition that may impair the individual’s ability to drive safely.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Our regulatory bodies (i.e. The College of Psychologists, The College of Physicians and Surgeons) 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.

6. 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 or the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia; legislation may permit the government empowered body to demand reports respecting the assessment 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.

7. 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.