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Midwives Using Electronic Communication

August 24, 2016

Note: This article was originally posted in our August 2016 newsletter, and has not been updated.

As electronic communication is frequently used in the practise of midwifery, there are important safeguards midwives should consider implementing to minimize risks of breaching client privacy and/or failing to meet standards of practice. The following are some suggestions:

• Provide clients with informed choice discussions regarding the risks and benefits of communicating electronically

• Recommend asking clients to sign a consent form, based on your community’s needs

• Develop a policy or protocol regarding electronic communications with clients and colleagues, which can include the following:

• subject matters that are appropriate for electronic communication as opposed to in-person visits

• the timeframe within which electronic messages will be responded to

• measures that should be taken to ensure the safekeeping of client information on electronic devices (e.g. password protection and encryption)

• Ensure appropriate documentation of electronic communications with clients in their medical records

• Be mindful when using a public server

Breaching client privacy and/or a standard of practice can have serious consequences for midwives. For example, they may be sued in court and/or found to have committed professional misconduct. Therefore, it is recommended that they consider the suggestions noted above and any additional factors pertaining to electronic communications that are relevant to their practise of midwifery.

Additional Resources

• CMO’s Guide on Compliance with Personal Health Information & Protection Act (PHIPA)

• Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM) webinar: Protecting Client Privacy in the Electronic Environment. Wednesday April 6, 2016 (also archived on the AOM’s member webpage)

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