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Privacy, Confidentiality, and Access to Information

IWK and your personal health information

At IWK Health, we’re committed to protecting the privacy of your personal health information. We collect personal health information because it helps us to provide care. The IWK may collect personal health information from other sources, if the law allows, or with your consent. We may collect and store personal health information in different ways—such as your paper chart, electronic files, and images. Our employees and other authorized persons are allowed to collect, use, and disclose only the personal health information they need to fulfill their roles and for purposes permitted under Nova Scotia law (in particular the Personal Health information Act).

What we collect

The personal health information collected by the IWK may include:

  • Your name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Health history
  • Provincial health card number
  • Other information about the tests, procedures, and care you received.

How we use personal health information

We use and disclose your personal health information in order to:

  • treat and care for you during your stay
  • help other health professionals outside our organization who are involved in your care to provide health services to you.
  • receive payment from your provincial health care plan, private insurer, or other body for delivering care to you
  • support the IWK’s educational activities, as we are a teaching hospital
  • conduct quality improvement and risk management activities
  • conduct patient satisfaction surveys
  • conduct research, if you give your express consent.
  • let your family and friends know that you are in hospital, your room and telephone extension, and general condition on the day they request the information
  • ask a representative of a faith group (such as a spiritual leader) to visit you during your stay, if you identify this group
  • plan and manage our internal operations, for example, bed management and staff scheduling
  • enable the Department of Health and Wellness to plan and manage the health care system
  • fulfill other purposes permitted or required by law, for example, reporting abuse, reporting communicable diseases

Exceptions to confidentiality

  • If a clinician has reason to believe that you/your child is in danger of being hurt, self-harming or hurting someone else, they are ethically and legally required to tell the appropriate authorities.
  • In some cases, the IWK may be required by law to disclosed confidential information if we are served with a court order.
  • If youth can consent on their own to treatment, they may choose to keep what they tell the clinician private from their parents. However, youth must understand there are some exceptions to this. The clinician must tell parents/legal guardians or appropriate authorities if the youth is in danger of being hurt, self-harming, or hurting someone else.

Your rights

You have the right to:

  • request a copy of your personal health information (complete the Release of Information Authorization Form subject to Fee Schedule)
  • request a correction be made
  • request a record of who has accessed your personal health information in an electronic information system
  • be advised of a breach of your personal health information
  • make a complaint about a concern related to your privacy (complete Complaint Form)
  • request a review by the Provincial Review Officer of the IWK’s decisions or actions


You may choose not to give your consent for us to use and disclose your personal health information. We will do what we reasonably can to comply with your wishes. If you ask us, we will not:

  • give it out to confirm your status as a patient. As soon as you are admitted to hospital, please tell staff working in your unit or department that you want us to keep it private (from friends or family) that you are a patient here.
  • disclose it to a specific health professional or to another health organization involved in your care
  • use it for IWK educational activities or patient satisfaction surveys
  • notify a religious representative

For more information about your rights in relation to your personal health information, please speak to your care team or refer to our privacy pamphlet, "The Personal Health Information Act" (PL-0807)

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) is provincial access and privacy legislation that applies to IWK Health. FOIPOP establishes a right of access to records in the custody or control of IWK Health for the purposes of accountability and transparency. FOIPOP balances the right to information with the protection of personal and confidential information. The FOIPOP Act does not apply when seeking access to health records. Requests for health records are subject to the Personal Health Information Protection Act, and managed by IWK’s Release of Information Office.  

To submit a FOIPOP request, complete the Application for Access to a Record (Form 1) with the $5 application fee and send it to IWK Health's privacy officer.