Ontario considers exempting some hospital records from FOI law

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism, and he has blogged for Covering Health ever since.

Legal Feeds blogger Glenn Kauth, of the Canadian Law Times, reports that Ontario’s legislature is currently considering a law containing a little-known provision that would exempt from FOI law “information provided to, or records prepared by, a hospital committee for the purpose of assessing or evaluating the quality of health care and directly related programs and services provided by the hospital” starting Jan. 1, 2012 (scroll down to Schedule 15).

The leader of a provincial nurses’ organization took issue with the provision, telling the London Free Press that “The public has a right to know what’s happening in its local hospitals,” but Ontario health officials say hospitals need the exemption.

Health Minister Deb Matthews has defended the move to exempt information related to quality of care from public release. According to the Free Press, Matthews believes subjecting hospitals and doctors to greater scrutiny would prevent open dialogue about problems and how to fix them. “They must have a very open and frank discussion,” she said.

(Hat tip to Paul Levy, whose post on the matter also has some great first-hand material from Denmark)

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