The Federal Privacy Act (Act) has set out 10 legally binding National Privacy Principles (NPPs), which apply to health service providers from 21 December 2001. The aim of the Act is to ensure standards and protection for the handling of personal information, including health information. Whilst SKG Radiology already adheres to patient confidentiality standards set by medical and professional codes of conduct, the Act places a further obligation upon SKG Radiology to protect the privacy of our patients’ information. You may complain to the Privacy Commissioner if you think SKG Radiology has breached your privacy rights, and get redress if the breach is proven. This Policy Guide sets out an overview of the NPPs as they apply to the services provided by SKG Radiology.
A number of words and expressions are used in this Guide, which have specific meanings under the Act and the NPPs.
“Personal information” & “Health information”
“Personal information” is information about you which identifies or could reasonably identify you. “Health information” is a subset of personal information and covers:
The term ‘health information’ also extends to information about people other than you, such as your family members, that SKG Radiology may receive in the course of providing a health service. Health information will most commonly be obtained directly from you, but will also be received from third parties, such as referring medical practitioners or specialists.
SKG Radiology takes reasonable steps to ensure its medical records:
SKG Radiology respects your right to know what health information is being collected by SKG Radiology and to determine how such information is used or disclosed.
SKG Radiology may collect the following health information about you:
SKG Radiology will only collect health information that is necessary for the purpose for which it is collected (see further below under ‘use and disclosure’), and does so in a way that is lawful, fair and not unreasonably intrusive.
Wherever it is reasonable and practicable to do so, health information about you is collected directly from you rather than from third parties. Sometimes SKG Radiology collects health information about you from a third party, such as a referring medical practitioner.
Wherever it is lawful and practicable to do so, you have the option of not identifying yourself when requesting a health service from SKG Radiology.
SKG Radiology can only use or disclose your health information:
The most important health information that SKG Radiology collects is the results of tests conducted. Such results are usually contained in an X‐ray or scan, or are reproduced in a report prepared by the radiologist. SKG Radiology is usually requested by a referring medical practitioner to perform the tests, obtain the results and to comment on them. However, SKG Radiology does not perform the actual diagnosis – this is reasonably expected to be performed by the referrer. Therefore, the primary purpose for which such health information is collected by SKG Radiology is for diagnosis.
SKG Radiology will usually disclose the health information to the referrer to enable the most accurate diagnosis to be made. This disclosure is within the scope of the primary purpose. The disclosure of such health information to the referrer is also considered to be a disclosure for a direct related secondary purpose (see further below). Accordingly, SKG Radiology will not normally seek your specific consent to disclose such health information to a referring medical practitioner.
SKG Radiology also uses and discloses health information for a number of directly related secondary purposes, which are purposes which you would reasonably expect, including:
If your health information is used or disclosed for one or more of these directly related secondary purposes, SKG Radiology will not normally seek your specific consent.
SKG Radiology will obtain your consent if your health information is proposed to be used or disclosed for:
If research is being contemplated, SKG Radiology will take reasonable steps to ensure you understand what the proposed research involves, the ways in which your health information will be used, and the risks and benefits of agreeing to participate.
Because of the nature of the services provided by SKG Radiology, special procedures for the secure disclosure of health information, particularly X‐rays, scans and test results, to you, or third parties, are followed.
Generally the use and disclosure of health information in these ways will reflect the alignment between the expectations and understanding of SKG Radiology and you as to what will be done with the health information collected. You may already be aware of the advantages and approve of health information being shared between several health service providers, such as SKG Radiology and your referring medical practitioner, as part of your overall health treatment and management. However, sometimes the parties’ expectations do not align. For example, you may not want an X‐ray or report to be directly sent to the referring medical practitioner following the service.
You may also not want SKG Radiology to provide certain health information or you do not want your health information to be used or disclosed in a particular way. SKG Radiology respects such wishes and will, in accordance with the Act and the NPPs, take all reasonable steps to comply with such wishes.
SKG Radiology strongly encourages you to obtain your health information, particularly copies of X‐rays and test results from your referring medical practitioner. This is likely to best facilitate effective and efficient delivery of your treatment and ensures that the referring medical practitioner has an opportunity to clarify any aspects of the test results and to answer any questions or concerns you have. It is your referring medical practitioner who makes the diagnosis. Test results provided in isolation by SKG Radiology may be misleading.
You have the right to access health information held by SKG Radiology. You do not have to provide a reason for requesting access. SKG Radiology asks that you complete an Access Request Form, in order to ensure that you are given the correct health information, however, you do not have to. Proof of identity will be required. A receipt for requests for access will be sent to you within 14 days. Processing of applications is normally completed within 30 days. When an application has been processed, you will be contacted to determine the manner of access.
There are various factors, which will affect the way SKG Radiology provides you with access. These factors include:
Similarly, there are a number of ways in which SKG Radiology can give access, including:
No fee is charged for requesting access to health information. A fee may be charged and is allowed under the Act to cover the cost of providing access (e.g. for file search, copying or printing records). SKG Radiology will consider your circumstances and capacity to pay for access when determining what charges may apply.
SKG Radiology can refuse you access to your health information only if:
The Privacy Commissioner’s Guidelines on Privacy in the Public Health Sector state:
“A serious threat to the life or health of any individual’ may include harm to physical or mental health.
The threat must be significant; for example where there is a serious risk an individual may cause deliberate self‐harm or where they may harm others. This may include situations where the health service provider believes the information may cause the individual significant distress that may in turn present a serious risk to the individual’s health.
Where the health service provider judges that there is a serious threat, and it is possible to provide the information in another form which would remove this threat (for example, by discussing the information in person), then this option could be offered.”
If SKG Radiology considers there is a serious threat to the life or health of any individual, we will discuss with you the ways of satisfying your request for information that will not involve the same threat, such as by meeting with you to discuss any issues in person or, with your consent, providing the record to another medical practitioner of your choice.
It will be rare that health information will be withheld because of an unreasonable impact on the privacy of others. There may, for example, be information provided by another family member on a confidential basis, such that it would not be appropriate for you to be told the information or the identity of the person who provided it.
Where legal proceedings have been commenced or are threatened against SKG Radiology, documents or other information generated for the purpose of those proceedings may be subject to a claim for legal privilege and do not have to be produced. Withholding access to certain health information in these circumstances is authorised by law.
If SKG Radiology deems it necessary to deny your application for health information then we will give you written reasons for the denial.
If you believe health information held about you is incorrect, incomplete or inaccurate, then you may apply for it to be corrected. If it is decided that there are insufficient grounds for correction, then we will tell you and a note will be added to your health information stating that you disagree with it.
Radiology has procedures in place to store your health information:
Such records are only accessible by those persons who require access to that information for the purpose of carrying out their employment.
PO Box 24
West Perth, WA 6872
Tel: (08) 9320 1200
Fax: (08) 9321 2056
Revised: August 2010