stacks of unsorted file folders

Health Information

What happens to a patient’s health information if a custodian becomes unavailable due to sudden injury, illness, or death? If you work in a dispensary where there are multiple custodians, someone at your work will most likely inherit your files. But what if you run your own dispensary?

The Health Information Act (HIA) says that patients have the right to access the information in their files, and that it’s the custodian’s responsibility to keep those files. It’s also the custodian’s responsibility to transfer ownership of files to another custodian if they’re no longer practicing. Finally, a custodian is responsible for ensuring there are policies and procedures in place to follow the HIA. Do you have a plan in place for dire emergencies?

Unexpected Tragedy

No one likes to think about grim topics like serious injury or death, but tragedy can strike unexpectedly. If an optician is self-employed, a major incident may leave their spouse or children suddenly in charge of patient files. Those family members might not understand the laws surrounding privacy and health information; they may not know how long patient files need to be kept, or what the proper method of disposal is. Furthermore, if they aren’t health practitioners, it’s inappropriate for your family members to be responsible for those files.

Your Successor Plan

That’s why the ACAO has developed a form for custodians to name a successor in case of emergency. All self-employed opticians should fill out this form with the name and address of their successor custodian as well as the location of their files. That way the college has a record of where your files are, and we can direct your patients to your successor should the need arise. The college knowing your succession plan relieves some burden from your family and friends, too; it gives them clarity in a time of grief and allows them to focus on what matters to them most: you.

Help us help you plan ahead; hope for the best, but prepare for the worst to give you, your family, and your patients, peace of mind.

If you have any questions about the form or about successor custodians, please feel free to contact Sandi at or call us at 780-429-2694 or 1-800-263-6026.


Successor Custodian Form

Appoint a successor custodian to take over your patient health information in the event of an unexpected emergency.
  • Why You Need to Name a Successor

    As per the Health Information Act (HIA)

    7(1) An individual has a right of access to any record containing health information about the individual that is in the custody or under the control of a custodian.


    63(1) Each custodian must establish or adopt policies and procedures that will facilitate the implementation of this Act and the regulations.

    Each self-employed custodian must assign a Successor Custodian in case of sudden injury, illness, or death to facilitate the individual’s right of access.
  • Member's Information

    This section is for information about you. Please tell us your name, license number, the location of your files, and name an emergency contact if applicable.
    An example of why you might want to name an emergency contact: if you work out of your home, and your spouse or children have access to your patient files, they may not know what steps to take to transfer them to your successor. Leaving a contact name and phone number in that case allows us to assist them in making sure your files reach their destination.
  • Please enter your first and last name.
  • Please enter your license number.
  • Please enter your business address, or the address where your patient files are stored if it's different from your business address.
  • Please enter an emergency contact phone number so that we know who to reach out to in case your files have not been transferred to your successor custodian.
  • Please tell us the name of your emergency contact.
  • Successor Custodian

    This section is for information about your successor custodian so that we know whom to contact to confirm that your files have been transferred and where to direct your patients if they call us.
  • Please enter the name of your successor custodian.
  • Please enter your successor custodian's license number. If your successor custodian is not an optician, please also write their professional title.
    (example: "#12345 - optometrist")
  • Please enter the business address of your successor custodian.
  • Please enter your successor custodian's phone number.
  • The information provided on this form will be collected and stored by the ACAO. We will not sell or redistribute your information to anyone, and will only use it for the express purpose of tracking the location of your patients' health information, and facilitating the transfer of those files if necessary. By submitting this form, you are agreeing to these terms.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.