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Sexual assault survivor says N.S. bill gives too much access to patient health data

HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia sexual assault survivor says lives could be put at risk if the province doesn’t maintain limits on who can access sensitive medical information about patients.

Carrie Smith of Digby, N.S., told a legislature committee today that a proposed bill is too broad in giving the Nova Scotia government access to patient health information.

An omnibus bill that amends 15 provincial acts would give the health minister access to personal health information to plan and manage the health system.

Smith says assault survivors could lose trust in the medical system and avoid seeking treatment if they know they won’t be consulted about the release of their medical records.

Dr. Gus Grant, registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Nova Scotia, told the law amendments committee that the language of the bill needs to be clarified to ensure the information gathered can’t identify individual patients.

Grant says the change as proposed “strikes at the heart” of the doctor-patient relationship and that there should be limits on the availability of health data.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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