Thursday, June 16, 2005

Insurance access trumps privacy: court

I have not read the judge's decision in this case, but I am not surprised by the conclusion. Apparently, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has concluded that a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit has a right to review the complete medical records of the plaintiff for the last five years to review for pre-existing injuries.

This appears consistent with previous judgements, such as the decision of the Ontario courts in Ferenczy v. MCI Medical Clinic (see: PIPEDA and Canadian Privacy Law: PIPEDA and Video Surveillance: Guidance from the Ontario Courts).

CBC Newfoundland and Labrador - Insurance access trumps privacy: court:

"ST. JOHN'S - The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has ruled an insurance company's right to access personal information may override an individual's right to privacy.

Mount Pearl resident Roseanne O'Dea applied to the court to restrict an insurance company from obtaining her medical records.

O'Dea had been in a collision with a taxi in 2003.

The Insurance Corporation of Newfoundland, which is representing the taxi company, said it wanted to review her medical and pharmacy records for the past decade before it proceeded with any compensation.

O'Dea refused, calling the request an unacceptable breach of her privacy.

Justice Robert Hall ruled there are occasions when an insurance company's access to records should be limited.

However, Hall ruled that O'Dea's privacy must give way to the right of the company to access all potentially relevant information.

Hall said pre-existing medical conditions could be relevant to O'Dea's claim.

Don Forgeron, Atlantic vice-president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, welcomed Thursday's ruling.

In the past, he said, courts have determined rights of access on a case-by-case basis.

'In the course of settling a claim, there needs to be appropriate medical information put forward to assess the extent of the injuries,' Forgeron said.

'We would look to the courts, as they have done in the past, to apply the appropriate tests to determine whether or not the information being requested is relevant to the proceedings.'"

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