Medical staff privacyNovember 5, 2020
How is privacy protected when a medical staff member tests positive for COVID-19, especially when balancing the need to disclose in contact tracing?
A: Physician Occupational Safety & Health (POSH) is completely confidential; no information will go out to other physicians or health-care workers. The same would apply to health-care workers in general.
In the contact-tracing process, it would be phrased that there is a staff member who tested positive and we want to know if everyone around had been adequately protected at that time. Efforts are made, depending on the size of the unit, to avoid identifying who that might be. If the unit was very small, one would have to use wording that made it even more protective of the individual.
We haven’t had a need to break confidentiality, or even consider it, and don’t anticipate that we ever will. All tests automatically come to Public Health. Public Health are the only ones who can legally have access to the names and identification of cases. When we follow-up, including the case of a health care worker, if they were not in the workplace when they were potentially infectious, we do not notify anybody. There’s no need to know.
Medical Staff Q&A were generated during the Oct 19th Medical staff forum. A running list of Q&A is located here: https://my.vch.ca/covid19/for-medical-staff