Before proceeding to VPCmail it is important that you read and acknowledge the following consent for email service:
The Physician offers patients the opportunity to communicate by email. Transmitting patient information poses several risks of which the patient should be aware. The patient should not agree to communicate with the physician via email without understanding and accepting these risks. The risks include but are not limited to the following:
- The privacy and security of email communication cannot be guaranteed.
- Employers and online services may have a legal right to inspect and keep emails that pass through their system.
- Email is easier to falsify than handwritten or signed hard copies. In addition, it is impossible to verify the true identity of the sender or to ensure that only the recipient can read the email once it has been sent.
- Emails can introduce viruses into a computer system and potentially damage or disrupt the computer.
- Email can be forwarded, intercepted, circulated, stored or even changed without the knowledge or permission of the Physician or the patient. Email senders can easily misaddress an email resulting in it being sent to many unintended and unknown recipients.
- Email is indelible. Even after the sender and recipient have deleted their copies of the email, back up copies may exist on a computer or in cyberspace.
- Use of email to discuss sensitive information can increase the risk of such information being disclosed to third parties.
- Email can be used as evidence in court.
- The physician does not use encryption software. The patient understands that this increases the risk of violation of the patient’s privacy.
The Physician will use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of email information sent and received. However because of the risks outlined above the Physician cannot guarantee the security and confidentiality of email communication and will not be liable for improper disclosure of confidential information that is not the direct result of intentional misconduct of the Physician. Thus, patients must consent to the use of email for patient information. Consent to the use of email included agreement with the following conditions:
- Emails to or from the patient concerning diagnosis or treatment may be printed in full and made part of the patient’s medical record. Because they are part of the medical record, other individuals authorized to access the medical record such as staff and billing personnel will have access to those emails.
- The Physician may forward email internally to the Physician’s staff and to those involved as necessary for diagnosis, treatment, reimbursement, health care operations and other handling. The Physician will not however forward emails to independent third parties without the patient’s prior written consent, except as authorized or required by law.
- Although the Physician will endeavour to read and respond promptly to an email from the patient, the Physician cannot guarantee that any particular email will be read and responded to within any particular period of time. Thus the patient should not use email for medical emergencies or other time sensitive matters.
- Email communication is not an appropriate substitute for clinical examinations. The patient is responsible for following up on the Physician’s email and for scheduling appointments where warranted.
- If the patient’s email requires or invites a response from the Physician and the patient has not received a response within a reasonable time period, it is the patient’s responsibility to follow-up to determine whether the intended recipient received the email and when the recipient will respond.
- The patient should not use email for communication regarding sensitive medical information, such as a diagnosis or a topic such as sexually transmitted disease, AIDS/HIV, mental health, developmental disability or substance abuse. Similarly, the Physician may refuse to discuss such matters over email.
- The Physician is not responsible for information loss due to technical failures.
Instructions for communication by email
To communicate by email the patient shall:
- Limit or avoid use of an employer’s computer.
- Inform the Physician of any changes in patient’s email address.
- Include in the email your child’s full name and age along with a brief description of the problem. Emails received without all of the above information may not be answered.
- Review the email to make sure it is clear and that all relevant information is provided before sending to the physician.
- Take precautions to preserve the confidentiality of emails such as using screen savers and safeguarding passwords.
- Withdraw consent only by email or written communication to the Physician.
- Should the patient require immediate assistance or if the patient’s condition appears serious or rapidly worsens, the patient should not rely on email. Rather the patient should call the Physician’s office for consultation or an appointment, visit the Physician’s office or take other measures as appropriate.
Patient acknowledgment and agreement
I acknowledge that I have read and fully understand this consent form. I understand that this contract is with my own doctor only and emails shall not be sent to other pediatricians in this practise. I understand that during vacation times this service may not be available. I understand that advice will be communicated back to me via email or telephone depending on my own doctor’s availability on an “as soon as convenient basis” and typically within 24 hours however the Physician cannot guarantee that any particular email will be read and responded to within any particular period of time. I will not hold my physician or anyone associated with my physician or the Vaughan Pediatric Clinic responsible for delays in urgent medical care resulting in medical complications for my child(ren). I understand that any advice given reflects opinions rendered based on an assessment of my own question and is not a substitute for traditional medical care of my child(ren). I understand the risks associated with the communication of email between the Physician and me, and consent to the conditions outlined herein, as well as any other instructions that the Physician may impose to communicate with patients by email. I acknowledge the Physician’s right to, upon the provision of written notice, withdraw the option of communicating through email. I understand that the following circumstances may result in immediate termination of email service for my family as determined by my physician and immediate responsibility for payment for all emails received:
- False representation and identification of patient and family
- Abusive or confrontational language
- Email directed to a paediatrician who is not yours.
- Failure to pay for any charges related to email services within a reasonable period of time.
- Overuse of service or improper demands upon the service. These issues will be discussed and warned by your physician prior to termination of service.