Media Relations Policy

William Osler Health System adheres to legislation and principles of confidentiality when releasing patient/client information. The following policy has been developed to ensure the media, and subsequently the public receive accurate information while protecting the confidentiality and safety of our patients, staff and physicians.

Policy statement(s)

There are three spokespersons authorized to speak on behalf of William Osler Health System:

  • President & CEO (or delegate(s))
  • Chief of Staff
  • Board Chair

Media requests 

REGULAR OFFICE HOURS
Media enquiries are to be directed to the Manager, Public Affairs at 905-494-2120 ext. 59467. Alternatively, media may call the media cell phone at 647-295-6095

AFTER HOURS AND WEEKENDS
Media calls are to be directed to Media-on-Call via Switchboard. 

On-site media authorization

ON-SITE MEDIA AUTHORIZATION
Although hospitals are publicly funded institutions, they are considered private property. Members of the media are permitted on hospital grounds only at the discretion or invitation of hospital management and must be escorted at all times while on hospital property.

PHOTOGRAPHS AND INTERVIEWS
A consent form must be signed by the patient or family member or, in the case of a minor, the consent must be signed by a parent/legal guardian, before an interview is conducted or a photo or video image taken on hospital property.

The original of the consent must remain with the patient's chart.

Release of patient information 

The hospital has a legal obligation to keep health information private and confidential.No information can be given out by the hospital without the written consent of the patient, or next-of-kin in the case of an incapacitated patient.If the patient is a minor, or is mentally unfit, a parent or legal guardian may provide consent.

Legislation

1. Public Hospitals Act

Section 22 of Regulation 965 made under the Public Hospitals Act places an obligation of confidentiality on the hospital with respect to the release of information from a medical record or from notes, charts and other material relating to patient care.  Where information is to be given to the news media, section 22 requires a written request or consent signed by the patient, the patient personal representative if the patient is deceased, or the parent or other person who has lawful custody of the patient if the patient is under 16 and unmarried.  If the patient is incapable of making treatment decisions, information may be released to the person authorized to make these decisions on his or her behalf.  It is possible for this person to request the hospital to give specified information to the news media, in lieu of dealing with the media personally.

2. Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991

Health professional regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 have a professional duty of confidentiality towards their patients.  There are 24 regulated health professions, including physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, chiropodists, pharmacists and midwives.  It is professional misconduct for a regulated health professional to breach confidentiality.

3. Coroners Act

A coroner may issue a warrant for a post-mortem examination under section 28 of the Coroners Act. The person who performs the post-mortem examination must report the findings only to the coroner who issued the warrant and the other persons listed in the section which include the Crown Attorney, Chief Coroner and Regional Coroner. 

Media enquiries during coroner cases, should be referred to the Coroner.

References

Public Hospitals Act, Section 22 of Regulation 965. 
Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. 
Coroners Act, Section 28.

 

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