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Privacy concerns raised on medical data collection for injury claims


September 16, 2013
By Jennifer Graham The Canadian Press

Sept. 16, 2013 — The minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance says the corporation will not change the way it collects information on an injury claim, despite criticism from the province's privacy commissioner.

Donna Harpauer says SGI gets all medical information that a doctor's office provides when an injury claim is made.

"The
issue that the privacy commission has, is how much information SGI
gets. That is whatever the doctor sends, quite frankly," Harpauer said. "I'm not sure how you can vet that information without taking
a great deal of the doctors' time and I don't think that's well-used
time. I think the doctors should be worried about their patients."

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Saskatchewan's privacy commissioner Gary Dickson took issue this week with SGI for collecting too much information.

A
woman complained to Dickson's office that SGI's collection of her
health information was excessive and wasn't needed to process her injury
claim. Dickson said in a report that SGI only needed information about a
woman's neck and back injuries for an accident claim, but it got her
entire medical file — including a note on a sexually transmitted disease
she had years earlier.

Harpauer acknowledges the STD information was not relevant to the claim.

"It's
absolutely not," she said. "However if the doctor sends it over to SGI,
SGI is going to then destroy it or give it back to the claimant."

Dickson
said returning personal information when too much is collected "falls
short" of adequately addressing the issue. The personal information
should not be over-collected in the first place, he said, adding that
SGI should revise its procedure to prevent that from happening.

SGI took issue with the privacy commissioner's jurisdiction and said he had no authority to investigate the matter.

Dickson
said there's no evidence that the legislative assembly of Saskatchewan
"would have intended to create such a gap in legislated privacy
protection and that, in fact, there is no such gap as alleged by SGI."

He recommended the government amend legislation to clarify the rules.

Harpauer said that's not something the government is looking at right now.


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