ST. AGNES SURGERY and YOUR PRIVACY
We collect personal and health related information for the primary purpose of providing comprehensive, ongoing, holistic medical care to individuals and families in accordance with accepted, high quality general medical practice.
Some of this information will be used for directly related reasons such as providing a referral to a specialist, hospital or other health service. We may also use information within the practice for our own quality assurance and education programs, to provide you with reminder letters, to inform you of health related issues or programs which may be of interest and for accounting purposes, including Medicare billing. Information may also be provided to maintain national health databases, particularly for childhood immunisation. At times we are also legally required to notify authorities of certain diseases (such as TB or meningitis) and provide information for medical defence and other legal requirements.
The information we collect is normally restricted to demographics (name, address, Medicare and social service numbers, health insurance status and contact phone numbers), current and past medical problems, medication taken, allergies, family history of illness, health risk factors, a record of each attendance and correspondence sent and received (e.g. specialist and hospital correspondence).
In providing consent for the collection of the above information, patients are consenting to the subsequent disclosure of that information for both the primary and directly related secondary purposes. However, you will be provided with the opportunity to exclude specific information from disclosure e.g. in a specialist referral letter.
This practice will not disclose personal information for any non-related secondary purpose without prior specific written patient consent.
RECORDS and SECURITY
Our patient records are maintained in a secure on-site computer system. The information recorded is protected by an individual password system and is accessible only to authorized personnel.
All staff have signed a confidentiality agreement. There is no access to our patient database from outside of the surgery.
Records will be retained for at least 7 years after the last encounter in the case of adults and for children, until they have attained the age of 25 years. Paper based information that is no longer required is destroyed by shredding.
All authorized practice doctors and staff have access to your information - if you see different doctors they all have access to your record unless you specifically request otherwise. In special circumstances an individual consultation can be "hidden" from access to all but the doctor who sees you on that occasion - this is strongly discouraged for reasons of subsequent patient safety.
At times we write to our patients about health related matters - such as when a medication you are taking has been shown to have serious side effects or when we are implementing a new program which may be of interest - your name can be removed from such lists, but again, this is discouraged for safety reasons. (We will only ever be contacting you about matters we consider of value to you).
We seek to ensure that the information we collect is accurate, current and complete. We encourage you to make sure that we have your most recent information - this is summarized in our Front Page printout which lists medical problems, current medication and doses and other key points - a copy of your Front Page Summary is easily provided during a consultation and is very useful to carry, particularly if you are on long term treatment.
You may have access to your records on request. Information that you can access will include all information collected from 21st December 2001 and all information from before that date which is stored in our Medtech medical record system, including specialist and hospital correspondence and test results.
The Act specifies that access to your records can be denied in some situations such as:
Individuals can only have access to their own records.
Only the custodial parent will have access to the records of children, and then only until the children reach an age at which the practice is of the opinion that they can provide their own consent - this age will vary from case to case.
You will need to specifically arrange to access your records - the process will depend on the complexity of the information you are seeking, although you are not required to give a reason for wishing to see the information.
Simple matters may be addressed during the course of a consultation.
Where significant time, record review and explanation may be needed, a formal request will be necessary and an appropriate time agreed - you will need to give a general description of your request so that a suitable process can be arranged. A Record Access Request Form is available from the receptionist.
Arrangements for access will be made within 30 days of the request.
A fee may be imposed for information access - a copying fee of 20 cents per page and a fee for time taken in providing the access ( $25.00 per 15 minutes).
Where access to your information is denied, the reason for this decision will be provided.
CORRECTION of INFORMATION
Should you believe that our information is inaccurate, we will correct our records or note the concerns within your record - for medico-legal reasons we are not be able to alter clinical records.
Patients may make anonymous inquiries to the practice about health related matters. However, when the practice enters into a direct doctor - patient relationship with an individual, we will not do so on an anonymous basis for obvious medico-legal and Medicare reasons.
TRANSFER of RECORDS
A copy of your medical record will be provided to another general practice on receipt of a request signed by yourself.
Commonwealth card numbers (Medicare and Social Security) will only be used for their specified purposes and not otherwise disclosed.
INFORMATION and COMPLAINTS
If you remain dissatisfied you may contact:
Federal Privacy Commissioner