As we move towards an age where health-related information is increasingly accessible to people across the globe, a new legal definition has been developed to ensure that health-focused content is not inadvertently “incorrectly” labelled as “uninformed consent”.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Manitoba has created a new list of “medical information” and “informed consent” for use in the media.
The list has the following key elements: “Any information that is designed to help or guide the reader, regardless of its content, and that is not based on personal medical history or medical diagnosis.”
The new definition also calls for “no more than one ‘health-related’ statement per story.”
“Medical information” is defined as “information that is intended to help a person understand the health consequences of an illness or injury, as well as the potential benefits or risks.”
It doesn’t include “consent forms, patient information, information about insurance or billing, information relating to treatment options, or other information about the person who is receiving medical care.”
The document also does not include “medical care.”
“Consent forms” are used by insurance companies to ask people to fill out forms about their health and the costs associated with treatment.
The new list doesn’t specifically mention insurance, but the document does say the “consents” “are confidential and are required for the insurance company to provide the coverage under the plan.”
Health-related content is also prohibited from being used to “misinform, confuse, mislead or deceive” consumers, and from being “incriminate, defamatory, disparaging or otherwise unfair in its content.”
“Health-related communication” should be about “the prevention and control of illness or disease, or the prevention and treatment of health problems or injuries, or in the treatment of diseases or injuries,” according to the new list.
“The content of health- related communications must be truthful, accurate, impartial, non-partisan and not misleading or inaccurate.”
The list goes on to say that the “definition of ‘health information’ includes information about disease prevention, treatment, and health promotion, but does not limit it to medical or medical history information.”
The federal government, however, has taken a much different approach, defining the word “consenting” as “the consent to an activity that is voluntarily undertaken, that is of a reasonable quality, that reflects an informed decision by the person, and in a manner that does not lead to an unwarranted or improper influence or influence.”
The Ontario government is currently drafting its own list of medical information and “consented consent” rules.
The province is also proposing a new provincial law, Bill 16, which would also require health-care professionals to obtain written consent before giving out personal health information to patients or employers.
As the new definitions are being rolled out, the American Civil Liberatario of Manitoba is urging people to “educate yourself” and to ask their doctor and insurance company if they have any questions about the new rules.
“This is an important step forward in protecting the right to privacy, as health information is one of the most important tools in protecting people’s health,” said Alissa Sadeghi, president of the American Humanist Association of Manitoba.
“As people become more informed about their healthcare options and about the health- care system, they will have greater confidence in their ability to consent to services that are being provided to them.”
In addition to the health information, the new law also includes “medical treatment information,” which could include “health care related information, such as medication or tests, related to treatment.”
The law would also provide “health-focused information” such as information about “health insurance” and related charges.
According to the American Federation of Government Employees, about a quarter of employers offer “medical assistance programs,” and many of them offer some form of “consultation.”
It also notes that the Health Care Consent and Information Act “requires health-based consent for the collection, use, distribution, or dissemination of health information.”
As well, the proposed legislation would also mandate “consensual access to health information and the protection of the privacy of individuals’ health information” from the Health Information Commissioner of Canada.
Health-care organizations, unions, and medical associations have voiced opposition to the bill, arguing that it would allow “unregulated, nonconsensual, commercial health care” to be used to sell medical services.
“Consulting doctors to prescribe medications and to provide health care services can often be done without disclosing patient information and consent,” said Dr. Robert Langer, the Canadian Association of Health Care Professionals’ executive director.
“Providing information about health services, such a prescription for insulin or blood pressure monitoring, could be sold to the public, but patients are not always informed of what their options are.”
A number of provincial health authorities are also opposed to the legislation.
“A health care practitioner is an