Appendix 4: Text of NSW Health information leaflet to patients re health privacy matters – to be used by Area Health Services

Our obligations

The NSW public health service is committed to safeguarding the privacy of patient information, and has implemented measures to comply with its obligations under the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002. Our doctors, nurses and other staff are bound by law, by NSW Health privacy policy and by a strict code of conduct to maintain confidentiality of patient information.
This leaflet provides you with details of what personal information is held about you, how you can access this information and the purposes for which your personal information is used and disclosed. Your personal information includes your personal details and personal health information relating to your treatment.

Collection

We collect your personal information so that we can provide you with treatment and advice. Test results and further information collected while you are being treated are kept with your medical record. We only collect information that is relevant and necessary for your treatment and to manage the health service.

While each Area Health Service facility maintains is own paper-based medical record, some of the information stored electronically is linked on an Area basis.

We collect information directly from you, wherever possible. We may need to collect information from other health professionals who have treated you.

In an emergency we may also need to collect information from a family member, friend, carer or other person who can help us to provide you with the best care.

We will take all reasonable steps to ensure the information we collect about you is stored securely. We are required by law to retain medical records for certain periods of time depending on the type of record and facility. We have appropriate systems and policies in place to protect your information from loss, unauthorised access and misuse.

If you do not wish for us to collect certain information about you, you need to tell us and we will discuss with you any consequences this may have for your health care.

Use and disclosure

We will use or disclose your information for purposes directly related to your treatment, and in ways that you would reasonably expect for your ongoing care. This may include the transfer of relevant information to your nominated GP, to another treating health service or hospital, to a specialist for a referral, for pathology tests, X-rays, and so on.

We are required to disclose some patient information to State and Commonwealth government agencies to comply with laws regarding the reporting of notifiable diseases and statistics; for example, the registering of births and deaths. Your personal information may be required as evidence in court when subpoenaed.

We may use or disclose patient information for billing, statutory reporting and other purposes required for the operation of the NSW health service, including safety and quality improvement initiatives and billing. For example, where relevant, we may need to disclose patient information to Medicare, private health funds, or the Commonwealth Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

We may use your information to contact you regarding patient satisfaction surveys that help us to evaluate and improve our services.

We may use or disclose your information for the following purposes in accordance with statutory guidelines issued under privacy law:

  • for public interest research projects complying with strict protocols and approved by a Human Research and Ethics Committee
  • for staff and student training purposes
  • for other planning, financial or management purposes for health service activities.

The statutory guidelines ensure that where your information is needed for these purposes and it is impracticable to seek your consent, a minimum amount of personal information is used, and the personal information is handled in accordance with strict standards.

We will seek your consent prior to the use or disclosure of patient information for purposes other than those listed above, such as for fundraising activities.

Access to your information

You are entitled to request access to all personal information including your medical record held by health service providers in NSW. Normally you will be asked to apply for access in writing and provide identification. You may be charged a fee if you request copies of your personal information or medical record.

Access to your personal information may be declined in special circumstances, such as where giving access would put you or another person at risk of harm.

If you believe the information we hold about you is incorrect and an error has been made, please let us know and we will correct the information. If we believe the information is correct, you may request for your view to be noted on the record.

Requests for access to or correction of your medical record should be addressed to your health service provider’s Medical Record Department.