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The Gunshot and Stab Wound Mandatory Disclosure Act (the “Act”) is in effect as of April 1, 2010.

The Act makes it mandatory for all Alberta Health Services (“AHS”) health care facilities and emergency medical technicians to report certain information to the police when a gunshot or stab wound is treated (or AHS offers treatment). The key obligations of the Act are stated below.

  • Staff working in health-care facilities and emergency medical technicians are required to report certain information to the local police service when a gunshot or stab wound is treated (or treatment is offered). (A “stab wound” is any wound caused by knife or other sharp or pointed instrument.)
  • The information that must be reported is:
    • patient’s name (if known);
    • whether injury is a gunshot or stab wound;
    • when the report is generated by a health-care facility, the facility’s name and location; and
    • when an EMT is reporting, the location attended to treat the injured person.

Only the above information must be disclosed to the police.

  • The report to the police must be made orally (and not in writing) and must be made as soon as reasonably practical without interfering with the patient’s treatment or disrupting the health-care facility’s or EMT’s regular activities.
  • Health-care facilities must ensure that, at all times, there is a designated individual who is responsible to make these disclosures on behalf of AHS facilities to local police.

Exceptions to Reporting

There are some situations under the Act where reporting is not required.

  • EMTs are not required to report if they deliver the patient to a health-care facility. In this case the health-care facility will make the report. Where EMTs do not transport the patient to a health-care facility, and the wound meets the above criteria, EMTs must report the incident to police.
  • Reporting is not required if staff or EMTs reasonably believe that the stab wound is self-inflicted or unintentionally inflicted.

Where police have accompanied the patient, this disclosure may be made directly to the officer. In the situation where no police are present with the patient, the Emergency Department charge nurse (or EMT) shall contact the local police service non-emergency number to make the disclosure. Any AHS staff or EMT reporting to the police must make a written notation of the police service receiving the information, the date of the report, and that the report was pursuant to the Act. This notation should be placed in the progress notes on the patient’s chart.

This legislation is not meant to override existing disclosure training and requirements with police services.  Rather, it is meant to complement already existing information sharing processes.

AHS staff treating a patient with stab or gunshot wounds will need to contact the Emergency Department charge nurse in their facility with the information listed above. The Emergency Department charge nurse will then report to the local police service. EMTs should report directly to the local police service if they do not deliver the patient to a health-care facility.

It is important to note that no legal action can be brought against staff who act in good faith under the Act.