More details on Consent to Treatment

A number of RMTs have been asking whether they require the consent of their patients to provide certain limited information about treatments to their patient's insurance provider. The answer is that it depends upon the information. In some cases you may not require the express permission of your patient to release information to the insurance company that is paying for their treatment.

S. 8 of the BC Personal Information Protection Act provides as follows:

• Implicit consent

8 (2) An individual is deemed to consent to the collection, use or disclosure of personal information for the purpose of his or her enrollment or coverage under an insurance, pension, benefit or similar plan, policy or contract if he or she

(a) is a beneficiary or has an interest as an insured under the plan, policy or contract, and

(b) is not the applicant for the plan, policy or contract.

This means that anyone other than the applicant for the plan who is receiving benefits is deemed to give their implied consent with respect to the collection of information by an insurer if it relates to their claim for benefits under a plan of insurance. No express consent is required.     

The question for us as RMT's, however, is how do we know what sort of personal information is relevant to this purpose? Generally, the complete disclosure of the patient's clinical records is not relevant to this purpose. But the fact that the patient attended on a certain date for a certain length of time and at a certain cost is relevant. The latter does not require the express consent of the patient to release.

Of course, just because you have their implicit consent does not mean you are required to release their information without their express consent. You may still choose to ask them before releasing the information. If they refuse their consent, then you can advise the insurer that the patient has refused to consent to the release of the information and that you will require a signed consent from the patient to do so. As a best practice, if you intend to rely on s.8 and provide limited information without the patient's express consent, your initial consent to treatment signed by the patient should expressly advise your patient that you intend to do so, and you should have them initial that section of the consent form.

Please contact the RMTBC Practice Resource Support person (Alison Chernoff) if you have any other questions about this.

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