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Privacy, Confidentiality & Social Media

To deliver high-quality care in fast-paced environments, various modes of communication, access-to-information, and digital tools are important. Regardless of your role, you may encounter confidential business-related, patient, or staff information. You are responsible for using and sharing this information in a secure manner. So ask yourself: Do I need to know? 

To go directly to the mandatory course, VCH Privacy and Confidentiality, scroll to the bottom of this page and click on the link.

To go directly to the mandatory course (VCH Privacy and Confidentiality) scroll to the bottom of this page and click on the link.


The most important information I need to know.

Privacy & Confidentiality

Email & Social Media

Precautions In & Out of Office

Serious Matter

Privacy is a serious matter! Please be aware that VCH builds in safeguards as part of core business requirements:

  • VCH has audit capabilities on all of its clinical systems. Every click you make on a client’s electronic health record can be tracked on an audit log that can be used to investigate a privacy breach.
  • Cases of misconduct can result in disciplinary action; in some cases, termination is a possibility.
  • Staff may only access and use personal information for legitimate purposes to perform job functions based on a “need to know” basis.

Scenario: Implied Consent

Mr. Chang is a motor vehicle accident patient who just arrived at the Emergency room. He is fading in and out of consciousness. You don’t know his history and need to access the data system to gather information in order to provide care.

Scenario: Sharing Information Online

A staff member from a small department has had long standing personal conflicts with someone she works with. She has her own Facebook account that describes her as “a 10 year+ employee of Vancouver Coastal Health”. Using that account, she replied to a VCH blog about a coworker in her department and their bullying behaviour. She named her department, and role of the coworker.

Physical Safeguards
File documents away, lock drawers, clean desk.
Collect printed documents, check printer logs for pending prints.
Info Sharing
Share only appropriate detail, control long email strings, password protect.
Purge old emails, shred documents, and disable old accounts.
Physical Safeguards
Keep trunk hidden from view, and have custody of records.
Technical Safeguards
Maintain passwords on mobiles. Use safenet tokens and encrypted USBs.
Carry Minimum
Bring with you the minimum need-to-know information.
Log What You Take
Be able to cross-reference that you have everything.


Tips to help me take care and stay safe.

Ask: Do I need to know?

You may only access and use Personal Patient Information for legitimate purposes to perform job functions on a “need to know” basis. If you believe there has been a privacy breach, connect with the Privacy Office for mitigation.

Be mindful when sharing information

Regardless of your role and work environment, be sure to use caution when discussing, digitally sharing, or physically carrying private patient information.

Be familiar with VCH policies

Visit the Shared Health Organizations Portal (SHOP) website for more detailed information on VCH Policies including Privacy, Confidentiality and Social Media.


In your new role at VCH, what Privacy and Confidentiality regulations do you think you will need to be mindful of?

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