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The Province wants healthcare providers to have the ability, in emergency situations, to share personal health information without a person's consent.

"We know we have a serious duty to safeguard people's personal health information, but we're trying to re-balance the conversation," Health Minister and Morden-Winkler MLA Cameron Friesen explains. "In rare cases, a person presents a danger to themselves, sometimes loved ones need to be contacted. We want to give authority to hospitals and clinicians to be able to make that call."

Friesen notes they've seen preventable tragedies occur in Manitoba because healthcare staff were unable to voice concerns to a patient's family members and support network. Currently, many in the healthcare system fear "doing things they kind of know to be right because they're just not certain what the rules are."

"These common-sense changes to legislation successfully weigh the health and well-being of individuals against the importance of safeguarding their personal health information," Friesen says.

An amendment to The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) would allow trustees of personal health information to disclose an individual’s medical records, without consent, to caregivers, loved ones or support people if they believe doing so reduces the risk of serious harm being done to the health or safety of that person or anyone else.

"These amendments will bring Manitoba in line with jurisdictions that have done a better job of balancing the duty to protect personal health information with the need to notify loved ones in rare cases where an individual discharged from the hospital can possibly present danger to themselves or others," Friesen explains.

The Mental Health Act would also be amended to allow disclosure of information from a patient’s clinical record in a psychiatric facility without consent. The disclosure would only be made if the facility’s medical director had reason to believe it necessary to reduce the risk of serious harm to the mental or physical health or safety of the patient or another person.

Friesen notes a review of PHIA legislation is currently underway, noting further amendments may be considered and introduced in 2019.

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