A Joliette pharmacist received a two-month suspension for viewing personal information about an ex-spouse and two of his acquaintances in the Quebec Health File (DSQ) without justification.
Published at 1:10 am. Updated at 5:00 am.
Until December, Michael Guay was co-owner of a pharmacy affiliated with Uniprix on Rue Papineau in Joliette. Between November 2020 and September 2022, he viewed his former partner's medical data 38 times. However, she is no longer his client, according to the decision of the disciplinary council of the Order of Pharmacists of Quebec.
Guay also admitted to viewing the medical records of two other people, acquaintances of his ex who were never customers of his pharmacy.
As is always the case with decisions of this kind, an order from the Disciplinary Board prohibits the naming of the three victims of these indiscretions.
The person who filed a complaint against Michael Guay worked at his pharmacy from 2017 to 2020, then had a fleeting “sentimental relationship” with him in 2021. They then continued to communicate on social networks.
In 2022, the complainant began to suspect that Mr. Guay was consulting her medical data and requested the list of access to her data in the DSQ, a right guaranteed by law.
“She receives the access report and finds that the defendant is accessing her file and confidential information multiple times,” the disciplinary board said.
During a meeting with her in November 2022, the complainant also admitted that he had “already left his DSQ key at his workstation and left his password with pharmacy employees.”
However, this USB stick, which allows access to the medical data of Quebecers, can only be used by its owner.
Still at work
The rules of the ordinance prohibit a member from working as a pharmacist or owning a pharmacy while disqualified. Nevertheless, La Presse managed to contact Michael Guay by calling his facility.
PHOTO FROM UNIPRIX WEBSITE
He says he works “as a lab assistant.” “I am not currently an owner. » He claims to have transferred his shares to his partner Gaétan Couillard.
Why did you allow yourself to view your ex's files for no professional reason? “I leave it to justice,” Guay replied simply.
Communications director Julie Villeneuve confirms with the regulation that ex-registered pharmacists can work as laboratory assistants as this profession is “not regulated”.
La Presse contacted the pharmacy's owner, Gaétan Couillard, to find out whether Mr Guay would become a shareholder in the establishment again when his deregistration deadline expires next month. “We won’t go back to it, it’s all said,” he stated simply before hanging up.
“Deviation from honor”
In its decision, the council regretted Mr. Guay's “act that undermines the honor and dignity of the profession.”
The council adds that members of the public “have the right to expect that their personal health information will remain confidential and inaccessible unless such consultation is necessary to obtain services relating to their health.”
Violations of medical confidentiality galore
In addition to Quebec's health record, medical staff have access to patients' health data through hospital and pharmacy computer systems.
In May 2023, La Presse revealed the extent of the violations of the fundamental right to medical confidentiality committed in Quebec.
The investigation found that unlike Ontario and Alberta, Quebec's Ministry of Health does not know the extent of the problem.
On Tinder… then on DSQ
In 2023, five pharmacists were disciplined for indiscretions in Quebec's health records, according to public documents. In Cowansville, a pharmacist went into the system to find out about three potential relationships discovered on the Tinder dating network in 2018 and 2019.
Salamicha Poirier was therefore disqualified from practicing law for two months.
“She was not the treating pharmacist of these three users and consulted their files in the context of friendly and romantic meetings, presumably to check the state of physical and mental health of her potential companions,” summarizes the decision of the “professional regulation” Pharmacists of Quebec, issued in May 2023.
Salamicha Poirier was also suspended from practicing law for two months in 2022 for reviewing an ex's medical records. However, as the measures took place over the same period, the Council considered that there was no antecedent when it received its final sanction.
What is the Quebec health record?
This is a centralized file that contains medical information about all patients, such as prescribed medications and laboratory test results. Healthcare professionals have access to it but must have clinical reasons to consult it.