Investigator Determines Pharmacy Collecting Too Much Information About Patients’ Immune System Function

October 4, 2012

An investigator with the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s office has found that the Calgary Co-op pharmacies’ practice of collecting information on an individual’s immune status every time they seek administration of an injection contravenes of the Health Information Act (HIA).

An individual contacted the Commissioner after being presented with a form that asked him if he had “any condition that affects the immune system such as cancer, AIDS, etc” when he went to the Co-op Shawnessy Centre Pharmacy to get a vitamin B12 injection. He believed that he was being screened by the pharmacy on the basis of his immune condition and that even asking the question constituted an excessive collection of health information. He was told by the Pharmacy that he would not receive the requested health service unless he provided the information.

The Health Information Act says that custodians must only collect the most limited amount of health information required to carry out the intended purpose. The Pharmacy acknowledged that there is no clinical need to collect information on a patient’s immune system function when they are seeking the health service sought by the individual, although it does administer some drugs and vaccines by injection where this information is clinically relevant. The Pharmacy accepted all of the investigator’s recommendations for changes in practice and documentation surrounding the administration of injections.