Editorial: Child’s health trumps his or her privacy

Editorial: Child’s health trumps his or her privacy

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You may think that your 16-year-old child would never end up like Elliot Eurchuk who died of a drug overdose in 2018.

But that’s being naïve.

And if your child was seeing a doctor, like Elliot was, you may never find out what’s going on because that medical information is considered private and confidential.

Are you kidding? Wish I was.

Elliot’s mom found him unresponsive in his bedroom and tried to revive him, but it was too late; he was gone.

She suspected he was smoking marijuana but was shocked to learn he was addicted to street drugs.

His parents tried to help their son, but privacy laws restricted them from obtaining details about his addiction problems.

At the inquest, the family doctor said teenagers have a right to privacy when it comes to medical information.

During one visit, Elliot asked his doctor for an opioid prescription to manage pain in his shoulder following an injury.

Is this the type of information that should be withheld from parents under privacy rules? Absolutely not!

Elliot’s father said they needed this information to save their son, but they didn’t get it. In fact, countless parents in Canada are prevented from helping their children in their hour of need thanks to our privacy laws.

For example, I took my 14-year-old daughter to a medical appointment recently and asked the receptionist if I could talk to the doctor afterwards to find out what was discussed. I was told that would be confidential information and that the doctor would not disclose it.

Excuse me? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

As a parent of an underage child, I have every right to know if there’s a health problem or not. To hold back potentially important details due to privacy rules is ludicrous. Parents need all the information they can get to save their children from harm, or in this case, death.

These rules must be changed to allow physicians to release this information. If they aren’t willing to do that, then they should face legal consequences if the child is harmed.

The fact is a child’s health trumps his or her privacy, and physicians should be legally obligated to inform parents if there is a concern about the child’s health and welfare.

•••

While reading a recent article on the high rate of medical errors in Canada, I was flabbergasted to learn that millions of taxpayer dollars are transferred to the Medical Protective Association to fight these claims from patients.

You heard right. Your taxes help defend doctors in medical error cases. This is wrong and needs to stop.

It’s no wonder that patients rarely win their claims or frequently abandon them out of frustration.

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