Privacy & Your Rights
Your privacy is important to us at SickKids. To offer the best care possible, we need to collect and use information about you and your family. Below you will find information about how we protect your information and how it is used to provide you with care.
The Patient and Family Rights and Responsibilities defines the rights of patients and families when receiving care at SickKids, and their responsibilities towards staff and other patients and families. You'll find it posted throughout SickKids.
As a Patient or Family Member, I have the right to:
- Receive safe, compassionate, and quality care that is patient and family-centred
- Be treated with dignity and respect
- Receive support and care that is free from all forms of racism, oppression, discrimination, and harassment
- Have my privacy respected
- Be fully informed about my diagnosis and treatment plan in a language I understand
- Ask questions, voice concerns and receive answers
- Expect that the members of my health-care team will talk with one another about my care
- Participate in decisions about my care
- Know the name and role of each member of my health-care team
As a Patient or Family Member, I have the responsibility to:
- Respect the rights, privacy, property and diversity of staff, learners, trainees, volunteers and other patients and their families
- Treat others with respect and without racism, discrimination or harassment
- Not verbally or physically abuse staff, learners, trainees, volunteers, and other patients and their families
- Share information to help my health-care team develop the best plan of care
- Let my health-care team know if I can’t attend an appointment
- Work together with my health-care team to achieve the best possible health outcomes
Have feedback? We're here to listen.
If you have a question, comment, concern or compliment, please let us know. We ask you to share these with you care team or unit manager; however, if this is not possible, please contact the Office of Patient and Family Experience and we will help support you in your journey at SickKids.
Protecting your privacy
We are committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of your information, and follow rules for how we collect, use and share your information set out in Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). We have policies in place for doctors, staff, volunteers and researchers that address confidentiality, privacy, security and the release of records.
How we use your information
The information you give us about yourself and your family is important to our work at the hospital. We use your personal health information to treat and care for you, and for any research study you or your family may be taking part in.
Only staff who need to see your personal health information are allowed to access it. We assume you agree (consent) to share your information with health-care providers and trainees involved in your care. We will ask for your consent before we collect, use or share your information for any reason other than our stated activities or those authorized by PHIPA or law.
SickKids is also allowed to use your information for other reasons listed here:
- To teach and educate – your information may be used to train staff and support our partnership with the University of Toronto and other schools.
- To conduct research and compile statistics – researchers may use your health information while working on a study approved by the SickKids Research Ethics Board.
- To improve the care we provide through quality improvement and risk management activities.
- To obey laws and regulations.
- To fulfill other purposes permitted or required by law.
- To plan, run, and manage programs, services and internal operations.
- To enhance your safety and security in the hospital.
- To obtain payment for your treatment (from OHIP, WSIB, your private insurer or others).
How SickKids uses email to communicate with you
With your permission, SickKids may communicate with you about your, or your child’s health care using email. It is up to you to know the risks and implement ways to protect yourself before you agree to use email to communicate with us. See below for more information.
We may email you about you or your child’s care. For example, this may include sending you an email to:
- confirm appointments and send appointment reminders,
- send you information about a condition, treatment or medical advisory (e.g., medication recalls, health and safety, etc.),
- provide medical advice,
- send test results,
- ask for your feedback about your experience at SickKids, and/or
- send you information about research studies you may want to participate in.
The emails we send you may contain personal health information, such as information about your diagnosis, treatment or medications. Some clinics may send you a survey to improve patient care and overall patient experience. Note that some clinics or physicians may have their own preferences and choose to limit what information they will include in an email.
If any email contains information that is important to your care, it will be copied or summarized into your health record. If you send us an email regarding your health care, the email may be forwarded to or seen by other SickKids staff who need the information to provide you with care or service. We will ask for your consent before we collect, use or share your email for any reason other than our stated activities or those authorized by law.
You can change your decision to communicate via email at any time. Your decision to communication or not to communicate via email will not impact to you care at SickKids. You may also choose your preferences for certain types of communications. For example, you can choose to receive appointment confirmations through email or text. If you want to stop receiving communications via email or update your communication preferences, you can:
- Contact your SickKids care provider,
- Update your communications preference in MyChart, or
- Contact email@example.com for assistance (available for MyChart and non-MyChart users).
While SickKids takes all available steps to protect your information, using email may introduce some risks to your privacy and security. For example, an email:
- may be sent to the wrong recipient by mistake,
- may be hacked or intercepted by someone who does not have permission,
- may be difficult to erase or delete once sent,
- may appear to come from a trusted source but actually contain a virus that can:
- damage your device (like a laptop or mobile phone), or
- access sensitive information about you, like your username, password or credit card information
By agreeing to communicating via email, you are accepting the risks to your information and devices. You are also agreeing to take the steps detailed below to help protect your information. Communicating via a patient portal like MyChart is a more secure alternative to email.
IMPORTANT: IF YOU RECEIVE AN EMAIL FROM SICKKIDS CONTAINING A LINK, BUT ARE UNSURE WHAT THE LINK IS, CALL YOUR HEALTH CARE TEAM BEFORE CLICKING.
Below are some examples of how to protect your information and devices while using email:
- Use strong passwords for each of your online accounts, and do not share your usernames/passwords with others.
- Accept new, legitimate software updates for your devices and applications to maximize the security of your electronic and web tools.
- Only open links or open attachments from trusted senders. If you are not sure what the attachment is, call the person who sent it to you before clicking on any links.
- Check the “To” field before sending an email to confirm that the correct individuals are receiving the email.
- Use your personal email when communicating with health care providers. Do not use a work email address as your employer may have the right to inspect your work email.
- Use a secure internet connection when communicating with health care providers. Do not use a public internet connection (e.g., WIFI at an airport, internet café, public library, etc.). It may be easier for other people to access your email account and read your personal information without you knowing.
Processing your information and the use of vendors outside of Canada
We take steps to make sure that everyone who performs services for us protects your privacy and only uses your personal health information when necessary. While SickKids avoids processing or storing data outside of Canada as much as possible, some support services are provided by vendors subject to U.S. laws or in the U.S. In these situations, personal health information will be subject to the laws of another country which may be different, and less protective, than those of Canada.
How we share your information
We may provide your information to others for reasons listed here:
To support your care
We share your information with health-care providers who are involved in your care. This may include providers who do not work at SickKids. The information that is shared may include access to your electronic health record and/or use of electronic systems that are shared and accessible by health-care organizations outside of Ontario. These systems securely share electronic information to provide timely and coordinated patient care. The following shared systems are used to support patient care.
SickKids is a member of eCHN (electronic Child Health Network) that allows other care providers, including community paediatricians, to have quick access to your child's health information from SickKids and other hospitals such as laboratory results, doctor’s notes, X-rays and visit information. Visit eCHN to learn more.
This is a provincial central repository that stores core elements of your child’s health record at SickKids that another care provider may access for continuity of care. Access to the ConnectingOntario Clinical Viewer is restricted to those who provide or assist with patient care. Visit eHealth Ontario - EHRs explained.
Ontario Laboratory Information System (OLIS) allows hospitals and community laboratories to share laboratory, cytology and pathology test results. Visit eHealth Ontario - Lab results.
Ontario Clinical Imaging Network (OCINet) allows hospitals to share diagnostic images and results. This protects patients because it avoids duplication of tests and may decrease the exposure of patients to radiation.
SickKids shares Epic (our electronic health record) with the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). Only patients who receive care at both locations will have their information shared with CHEO. SickKids is also part of Epic's Care Everywhere which allows your patient health record to be securely accessed by partner hospitals should you attend at one of these hospitals for care.
The IAR enables assessment and service utilization information, collected at the point-of-care, to be shared between the client’s circle of care in a timely, secure and privacy protected manner. As a client moves through the continuum of care, consented assessments and service information is accessible by authorized service providers.
The SickKids Foundation is dedicated to supporting SickKids by raising funds for research, education, and the improvement of patient care. Unless you tell us not to, we will give your name and address to SickKids Foundation for fundraising.
To conduct patient satisfaction surveys
We want to hear from you about the quality of care and services you received at SickKids. We will use your name and address, and the dates of your visits to send you surveys. This information helps us improve the care we provide.
To inform your friends and family
Unless you ask us not to, we will provide general information about your health status to family or friends who ask. This includes the name of the clinical program caring for you (e.g. Cardiology), where your room is located, and your general health status, such as “stable” or “no change”. Your consent is required to disclose any further information.
To adhere to the law
PHIPA requires and permits us to give some of your information to others, including but not limited to:
- The Ministry of Health
- Registries such as Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario, Institute for Clinical Evaluation Sciences, Canadian Institute for Health Research
- Researchers if approved by our Research Ethics Board
- The Medical Officer of Health to report communicable diseases
- The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
- Law Enforcement Officers who present a warrant or subpoena, or to aid in an investigation
- The Children’s Aid Society where child harm is suspected; the children’s lawyer
- The public guardian and trustee
- The Coroner
Contact us if:
- you do not want to receive our patient satisfaction survey
- you do not want your contact information shared with the SickKids Foundation
- you wish to withdraw or place “conditions” on your consent for how your information is used or shared
- you would like more information about our information practices
- you have any privacy related questions and/or complaints
- For a copy of your health record or to ask for a correction to your personal health records, contact Health Information Management.
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue
Toronto, ON M5G 1X8
Contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
You can contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario if you think we have violated your rights.
Phone: 416-326-3333 or 1-800-387-0073
2 Bloor Street East
Toronto, ON M4W 1A8