PATIENT PRIVACY

This practice is bound by the  The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act), an Australian law which regulates the handling of personal information about individuals. This includes the collection, use, storage and disclosure of personal information, and access to and correction of that information.
http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-act/the-privacy-act

The maintenance of privacy requires that any information regarding individual patients (including staff members who may be patients) may not be disclosed either verbally, in writing, in electronic form, by copying either at the Practice or outside it, during or outside work hours, except for strictly authorised use within the patient care context at the Practice, or as legally directed.

There are no degrees of privacy. All patient information must be considered private and confidential, even that which is seen or heard and therefore is not to be disclosed to family, friends, staff or others without the patient's approval. Any information given to unauthorised personnel will result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal.

Each staff member is bound by his/her privacy agreement, which is signed upon commencement of employment at this Practice.

All information received in the course of a consultation between a doctor and the patient is considered personal health information. This information includes medical details, family information, address, employment and other demographic and accounts data obtained via reception. Medical information can include past medical & social history, current health issues and future medical care. It includes the formal medical record whether written or electronic and information held or recorded on any other medium e.g. letter, fax, or electronically.

Doctors and all other staff in this Practice have a responsibility to maintain the privacy of personal health information and related financial information. The privacy of this information is every patient's right.

The physical medical records and related information created and maintained for the continuing management of each patient are the property of this Practice. The Practice must ensure the protection of all information contained therein. This information is deemed a personal health record and while the patient does not have ownership of the record he/she has the right to access under the provisions of the Commonwealth Privacy and State Health Records Acts.

Requests for access are to be noted in the patient's medical record, on ‘Patient Request for Personal Health Information Form' and Register.

Personal health information is to be kept out of view and not for access by the public.

Reception and other Practice staff in the main reception area must remember that the waiting room is adjacent and as such staff should maintain low noise levels and not discuss patients, thereby avoiding patient information inadvertently being heard by patients or visitors.

Access to computerised patient information is strictly controlled with personal passwords. Staff do not disclose passwords to unauthorised persons. Screensavers are in place when information is not being used. Terminals are logged off when the computer is left unattended. Computer screens are not to be in public view.

Patient reports, letters, x-rays etc. are to be received by staff in person at reception and placed in the doctor's tray in reception.

Electronically downloaded pathology and other reports go directly to the referring doctor 's computer for action.

Items for the courier or other pick-up are to be left at the reception desk behind the counter, not on top in public view.

When patients are being seen by the doctor, in a consulting room, the door is to be closed for privacy. Patients also have a curtain within each consulting/treatment room for additional personal privacy if required for undressing and dressing.

Whenever a door to any office, consulting or treatment room is closed, staff should knock and wait for a response prior to opening the door and seeking entry, or telephone the doctor or staff member.

Doors to consulting/treatment rooms are not to be locked except when the Doctor or other treating health professional is not in and conducting consultations.

Where a report is documented for a third party, having satisfied criteria for release, (including patient written consent) then the patient's doctor may specify a charge to be incurred by the patient or third party, to meet the cost of time spent preparing the report. Refer to doctor for charges to be raised.