Privacy legislation including the Health Information Act (HIA) and the Personal Information and Protection Act (PIPA) governs the collection, use, disclosure, and access to patient information. The patient (or patient designate) has the right to access their record. The record custodian can vary - most often the facility is the custodian for practical purposes unless otherwise agreed upon between the physiotherapist and the facility where they work or the clinic owner/manager.
Physiotherapists have a professional obligation to ensure clinical and related records (e.g., billing) are maintained, generally for 10 years. Physiotherapists must also ensure they have ongoing access to records when leaving a practice. If a physiotherapist is employed by another person or facility, the physiotherapist must ensure that these professional obligations can be accommodated.
There are other ways to fulfill this professional obligation. Other options include that the physiotherapist:
- Takes patient records or copies when leaving a facility.
- Has agreement with record custodian that records will be maintained for required period and that physiotherapist will have access if required.
- Obtains copy of record from patient/patient designate.
Physiotherapists are encouraged to prevent patient record issues by negotiating these matters at the time of hire to avoid conflict when departing. If you find yourself in the position that your professional obligation conflicts with a contractual obligation, seek legal advice.