■ Risk management toolbox:
Confidentiality is an important component of privacy legislation and a cornerstone of a medical professional's fiduciary obligations.
Patients share some of their most sensitive personal information with their physicians and physicians, in turn, have an obligation to ensure the information entrusted to them is kept secure and confidential. A physician's employees and staff share in the responsibility of meeting these obligations, but the ultimate accountability rests with the physician.
The CMPA encourages members to have their employees and staff sign a "Confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement" [PDF], such as this one, which members may customize and use in their practice. It may be beneficial to have the agreement renewed annually. Such an agreement helps ensure employees and staff understand their obligations, encourages respect in their handling of confidential patient information, and provides valuable reassurance to the patient.