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Confidentiality in an Era of Patient-Doctor-Cop

From The Canadian Press:

Doctors at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster have complained that local police and RCMP officers are routinely recording conversations without consent between doctors and patients who are considered a suspect in a crime.

“They will be present when we are trying to question the patients and trying to obtain a history of what happened,” said Tony Taylor, an emergency physician who practises at the hospital.

“They have now recently started recording these conversations and often they will do that unannounced, which has a number of implications around confidentiality and consent.”

As far as doctors at Royal Columbian are concerned, the police are getting in the way of patient care.

Patients tend to clam up when police officers are present, Dr. Taylor said. “That makes it difficult to get those kind of history details that are critically important,” he said.

The idea that the police are present, and recording interactions between a doctor and patient, is patently problematic from a procedural fairness perspective. In the past the authorities have lost Charter challenges based on their attempts to exploit Canada’s one-person consent doctrine; I’d be very curious to know the legal basis for their recording persons who may be accused of a crime, in a setting clearly designated as deserving heightened privacy protections, and the extent to which that legal theory holds up under scrutiny.