Collection of Personal 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 patients 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.
Use and Disclosure
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 and hospitals are sometimes required to disclose information for public interest reasons – for example the mandatory reporting of some communicable diseases.
- It may be necessary to disclose information about a patient to fulfil a professional indemnity insurance obligation.
- Provision of information to private health funds, Medicare and other third party payers if relevant, for billing and medical rebate purposes.
In general, a patient’s health information will not be used for any other purposes 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 ourselves 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 day surgeries and 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.
We have made this and other material available to patients to inform them of our policies on the management of personal information. On request we 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.
Access and Correction
Patients may request access to their personal health information held by ourselves.
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 we incur costs in providing access.
We acknowledge the right of children to privacy of their health information. Based on the professional judgment of our staff 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 ourselves will be made available to another health service provider.
These are the numbers, letters or symbols that are used to identify patients with or without the use of a name (e.g. 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.
Trans-Border Data Flow
An 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.
Patients should feel free to discuss any concerns, questions or complaints about any issues related to the privacy of their personal information with our staff. If a patient is still dissatisfied, then any complaint should be forwarded to the Practice Manager.
Privacy Act Amendment 2012