The policy is part of Eastern Health’s ongoing process to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of its patients.
In a news release, it states it had been a regular practice for family members, friends and neighbours to call Eastern Health hospitals to get information about the location of an inpatient, including the patient’s room number and room phone number. With the new policy, a patient has to agree for that information to being released.
“Eastern Health takes the issue of patient privacy and confidentiality very seriously and we are always looking at ways that we can enhance our efforts to ensure that the privacy of our patients, clients and residents is protected,” said Vickie Kaminski, President and CEO. “This policy gives individuals the opportunity to take control of the disclosure of their inpatient status and location if they are admitted to one of our facilities.”
Under the new policy, upon admission to an acute care facility, patients or the person speaking on their behalf will be asked by admission staff if they would like their inpatient status and location to remain private. The decision will appear on the hospital admission form which is signed by the patient.
The patient’s decision will be reflected in Eastern Health’s computer system: if he/she allows disclosure of information about his/her status it will be available to switchboard/reception staff. If the individual chooses to keep his/her status private, the switchboard/reception staff will have no information about the location of that person, not even the name. The new policy means all public inquiries and phone calls about an individual patient will be directed to the main switchboard/reception desk. The new policy will not override the procedure that is already in place on units within hospitals to share inpatient status and progress with designated family members.
Should patients wish to change their decision during their stay in hospital, they will be given an opportunity to do so.