The provision of quality health care is our principal concern. It requires a doctor-patient relationship of trust and confidence. Your doctor regards patient health information as confidential and will only collect this information with patient consent.
Every effort will be made to discuss these matters with patients at the time personal health information is collected from patients attending this practice. Because there will be occasions when it is not practicable to make patients aware of these matters at the time of collection this brochure is designed to outline how this practice endeavours to protect the privacy of patients’ personal health information.
It is necessary for us to collect personal information from patients and sometimes others associated with their health care in order to attend to their health needs and for associated administrative purposes. Health information is ‘sensitive’ information for the purposes of privacy legislation. This means that generally patients’ consent will be sought to collect health information that is necessary to make an accurate medical diagnosis, prescribe appropriate treatment and to be proactive in patient health care.
A patient’s personal health information is used or disclosed for purposes directly related to their health care and in ways that are consistent with a patient’s expectations. In the interests of the highest quality and continuity of health care this may include sharing information with other health care providers who comprise a patient’s medical team from time to time. In addition there are circumstances when information has to be disclosed without patient consent, such as:
- Emergency situations.
- By law, doctors are sometimes required to disclose information for public interest reasons, eg mandatory reporting of some communicable diseases.
- It may be necessary to disclose information about a patient to fulfil a medical indemnity insurance obligation.
- Provision of information to Medicare or private health funds, if relevant, for billing and medical rebate purposes.
- For reminder letters and sms messages which may be sent to you regarding your health care, management and confirmation of appointments.
In general a patient’s health information will not be used for any other purpose without their consent. There are some necessary purposes of collection for which information will be used beyond providing health care, such as professional accreditation, quality assessments, clinical auditing, billing and so forth.
All patient information held by this practice relevant to the functions of providing health care will be maintained in a form that is accurate, complete and up to date. The storage, use and, where necessary, transfer of personal health information will be undertaken in a secure manner that protects patient privacy. It is necessary for medical practices to keep patient information after a patient’s last attendance for as long as is required by law or is prudent having regard to administrative requirements.
This practice has made this and other material available to patients to inform them of our policies on management of personal information. On request this practice will let patients know, generally, what sort of personal information we hold, for what purposes, and how we collect, hold, use and disclose that information.
Patients may request access to their personal health information held by this practice.
- Where necessary, patients will be given the opportunity to amend any personal information held that is incorrect.
- There are some circumstances in which access is restricted, and in these cases reasons for denying access will be explained.
- A charge may be payable where the practice incurs costs in providing access.
- This practice acknowledges the right of children to privacy of their health information. Based on the professional judgment of the doctor and consistent with the law, it might at times be necessary to restrict access to personal health information by parents or guardians. Upon request a patient’s health information held by this practice will be made available to another health service provider.
There are the numbers, letters or symbols that are used to identify patients with or without the use of a name (eg Medicare numbers). We will limit the use of identifiers assigned to patients by Commonwealth Government agencies to those uses necessary to fulfil our obligations to those agencies.
A patient has a right to be dealt with anonymously, provided this is lawful and practicable. However, in the medical context this is not likely to be practicable or possible for Medicare and insurance rebate purposes. It could also be dangerous to the patient’s health. Individual’s privacy is protected Australia-wide by privacy laws. We will take steps to protect patient privacy if information is to be sent interstate or outside Australia.
Information about a patient’s medical and family history is needed to provide accurate medical diagnoses and appropriate treatment. We will be fair in the way we collect information about our patients. This information is generally collected from the patient, or otherwise with the patient’s consent. However, from time to time we may receive patient information from others. When this occurs we will, wherever possible make sure the patient knows we have received this information. Medical care requires full knowledge of patient health information by all members of a medical team. To ensure quality and continuity of patient care a patient’s health information has to be shared with other health care providers from time to time. Some information about patients is also provided to Medicare, and private health funds if relevant, for billing and medical rebate purposes.
The doctors in this practice are members of various medical and professional bodies including medical defence organisations. There may be occasions when disclosure of patient information is required for medical defence purposes. There are also circumstances where a medical practitioner is legally bound to disclose personal information. An example of this is the mandatory reporting of communicable diseases. It is necessary for us to keep patients’ information after their last attendance at this practice for as long as it is required by law or is prudent having regard to administrative requirements.
It is important to us that your expectations about the way in which we handle your information are the same as ours. Please do not hesitate to discuss any concerns, questions or complaints about any issues related to the privacy of your personal information with your doctor. If you are still dissatisfied you can complain to:
National Privacy Commission
Privacy Hotline 1300 363 992
GPO Box 5218
Sydney NSW 2001