Photocopiers and fax machines have memories

Registrants may be aware of the recent media coverage of physicians’ offices misdirecting faxes containing patient information. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) dealt with a situation where faxes containing personal patient information intended for a clinic were faxed, by accident, to another fax number that was one digit off from the clinic’s fax number. This situation serves as a reminder to all physicians and their staff to take necessary precautions when transmitting personal information through fax, including the use of a cover sheet with clear instructions to contact the originating physician’s office if the fax was received in error. If there is a report of a misdirected fax, both the sender and the receiver should act immediately to ensure the error doesn’t happen again.

Further, registrants should be aware that photocopiers and fax machines contain hard drives which record all transactions. When replacing photocopiers or fax machines, take the necessary steps to ensure the hard drive is destroyed prior to removal.

In 2005, the OIPC published guidelines on faxing and emailing personal information. The guidelines identify best practices and tips to reduce the potential for sending personal information to the wrong recipient: http://www.oipc.bc.ca/guidance-documents/1446

The College has similar guidance regarding emailing patient information: https://www.cpsbc.ca/files/pdf/PSG-Emailing-Patient-Information.pdf

Physicians are encouraged to review these two documents.