The legal counsel for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan says there’s confusion about when it’s appropriate for doctors to look up patients’ information.

The privacy commissioner has found that three doctors “inappropriately accessed” the health records of patients who were victims in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

The doctors provided emergency care to victims at Nipawin Hospital. CPSS associate registrar Bryan Salte told CTV News that the breach was likely unintentional and that they likely wanted to know the outcome of their patients.

“We're talking about people looking up information about the patients they treated. It wasn't as though they we're looking up their daughter's boyfriend’s information, or something that doesn't involve them in any way.

“This was traumatic for a lot of people, and I can understand it would be human nature for somebody who had dealt with that kind of traumatic incident to say, 'I wonder what happened, I wonder what happened to that patient I was taking care of.'”

In Saskatchewan it’s a privacy breach for doctors to look up information about their patients once the patient is out of their care.

In Ontario and Alberta, however, a doctor is entitled to access a patient’s information after providing care.

The privacy commissioner has recommended changes to the Health Information Protection Act. The commissioner recommended doctors' after-care access be situational and allowed if used for educational purposes. For example, if a patient's outcome could help a doctor learn from their procedural technique.

In addition to the doctors who treated the crash victims, the privacy commissioner found two medical residents and one office worker also broke privacy rules.