Privacy & Confidentiality
It is the policy of this practice to maintain security of personal health information at all times. Your medical record is a confidential document, covered by the Privacy Act 1988. This legislation, incorporating the National Privacy Principles, promotes greater openness between health service providers and consumers regarding the handling of health information, whilst ensuring standards apply to the protection of personal information, including health information.
Your Personal Health Information
Your doctor needs information about your past and present health in order to provide you with high quality care. This practice will make sure that you are able to discuss your health with your doctor in private.
Information is called “personal health information” if it concerns your health, medical history, or past or future medical care, and if someone reading it would be able to identify you.
Your Medical Records
Your doctor will do his/her best to make sure that your medical records are:-
• accurate, up to date, comprehensive, and well organised.
• contain enough information to allow another doctor to care for you.
• contain a summary of your care, and can be used to remind you, with your permission, to return for follow up, check-ups, and reviews.
Your doctor will only collect information which is relevant to your medical care. If you are uncertain as to why information is being requested, ask your doctor.
Providing your information to other doctors
The doctors in this practice respect your right to decide how your personal health information is used or disclosed, for example, to other doctors. In all but exceptional circumstances, personal information that identifies you will be sent to other people only with your consent.
It is customary in this practice for all doctors to have access to all the medical records. If you have any concerns about other doctors at this practice being able to see your records, discuss your concerns with your doctor.
Providing Your Information To Others
Your doctor will not disclose your personal health information to a third party unless:-
• you have consented to the disclosure.
• this disclosure is necessary because you are at risk of harm without treatment. For example you are unconscious after an accident.
• your doctor is legally obliged to disclose information. For example, notification of certain infectious diseases, suspected child abuse, or a subpoena or court order.
• The information is necessary to obtain Medicare payment, or other health insurance rebates
• There is an overriding public health and safety interest in the release of the information.
Using health information for quality improvement and research
We use patient health information to assist in improving the quality of care we give to all our patients by reviewing the treatments used in the practice.
We may also use information that does not identify you in research projects to improve health care in the community. You will normally be informed if your information is to be used for this purpose, and will have the opportunity to refuse to have your unidentified information used in this way.
Wherever practicable, the information used for research will not be in a form that would enable you to be identified. The publication of research results which use your information will never be in a form that enable you to be identified.
In some circumstances, where the research serves an important public interest, identifiable medical records can be used for medical research without your consent under guidelines issued by the National Health and medical Research Council. This research must be approved by an official ethics committee.
Security Of Information In This Practice
All medical records within this practice are stored on computer. We will ensure that any of your personal health information is kept private, and is protected from unauthorised access.
Whenever sensitive documentation is discarded the practice uses an appropriate method of destruction. As all our patient records are electronic, any hardcopies of patient information are scanned to patient files, and are then discarded by shredding.
Your Access To Your Health Information
You are entitled to access information contained in your medical record. You may ask your doctor about any aspect of your health care, including information in your record. Information in your record can be provided to you by way of an accurate and up to date summary of your care, for instance if you are moving away, and are transferring to a new doctor.
If you request a summary, or direct access to your full medical record, your doctor will need to consider the risk of any physical or mental harm to you, or any other person which may result from disclosure of your health information, and may need to remove any information that may impact on the privacy of others.
Depending on what is involved, you may be asked to contribute to the cost of providing the information.
Resolving Concerns Regarding The Privacy Of Your Health Information
If you have any concerns regarding the privacy of your health information, or regarding the accuracy of the information held by the practice, you should discuss this with your doctor. Inaccurate information will be corrected, or your concerns noted in the records. For legal reasons, the original notes will be retained.
Further information on Privacy Legislation is available from:-
The Office of the Australian Information Commission
Ph: 1300 363 992