At Whitehorse Medical Centre we are committed to protecting patient information and handling personal information in a responsible manner. This is achieved by explaining how
we collect, use and disclose medical information as is necessary or with your consent. In addition to this, we also demonstrate how you may access your information and how we may resolve any privacy related issues.
Whitehorse Medical Centre collects and stores personal information, including sensitive health information, in order to provide quality treatment services, to assist in the provision of medical care and to manage our medical practice.
This information includes name, date of birth, address, gender and telephone numbers. We may also collect information on ethnicity, previous health or family history and direct debit details. This information is stored on our computer medical records system.
We will only collect information from you personally whenever practicable. However, we may also need to obtain information from other sources such as treating specialists, hospital, radiologists, pathologists and other health care providers.
Information is collected by either medical or non-medical staff in various ways, such as over the phone or in writing, in person or over the internet if you deal with us online. In an emergency, we may also collect your information from relatives, friends or employer/co-worker (if an incident has happened at work).
Use and Disclosure
At Whitehorse Medical Centre, we treat your personal information as strictly private and confidential. We will only use and disclose your information as reasonably expected and for purposes directly related to your ongoing care and treatment.
We use your information as part of your healthcare to send you reminders for specific tests, such as pap smears and immunisations and follow up appointments and to contact relevant organisations (such as insurance companies, lawyers in relation to medical claims, for practice review or research purposes) and for billing or collection of any outstanding payments.
We may sometimes need to disclose your personal information to organisations outside of this practice for medical, ethical, insurance and legal reasons. These include consultant medical specialists, hospital medical staff, your representative (eg. guardian, family member and Power of Attorney), contractors (such as pathology & allied health) and insurers (such as Medicare, TAC and Worker’s Compensation).
There are circumstances where we are permitted or required by law to disclose your personal information to third parties, like police, solicitors, government regulatory bodies, tribunals and courts of law. Your information may be disclosed to outside contractors to perform activities on behalf of the practice, such as IT service provider, solicitor, debt collection agent, accountant and auditor. These contractors are only required to use your information for specific purposes that we have asked them to perform.
We impose security, confidentiality requirements and signed contracts for strict privacy on how these organisations, contractors and third parties handle your personal information.
Data Quality and Security
We take reasonable measures to ensure that your personal information is accurate, complete, relevant and up to date. For this purpose, our staff may ask you to confirm your contact details over the phone or when you attend a consultation. We request that you let us know if any information we have about you is wrong or out of date.
Personal patient information that we hold is protected by
- Securing our premises
- Placing passwords and varying levels of access on our database to limit access and protect electronic information.
- Providing locked cabinets and rooms for the storage of paper records
- Any patient paper records no longer needed, are kept in locked storage bins for the secure shredding service to handle and dispose of correctly.
If you believe the your information that we hold about you is wrong, incomplete or not up to date, we ask that you contact us over the phone or by completing our up-to-date patient details form available at our practice. (Refer to Appendix 1)
You have the right to ask for access to your medical records. We request that you make an appointment with either our practice manager or your GP.
You must specify dates or specific medical issue/topic concerned. At the time of seeing your record, two practice staff must be present for legal reasons. There may be a fee for administrative costs of providing you with copies of your medical records.
We may deny access to your medical records in certain circumstances permitted by law eg. if disclosure may have a serious threat to your health and safety. We will always tell you why access is denied and the options you have to respond to our decision. (Refer to Appendix 2)
If you have a complaint about privacy of your personal information, we request that you contact us by completing a patient complaint form available in our practice. When we receive a complaint, we will consider the details and try to resolve it in accordance with our complaint handling procedures. (Refer to Appendix 3)
If you feel that your privacy has been breached, you may contact:
Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 2999
CANBERRA ACT 2601
(T) 1300 363 992
10-16 Queen Street
MELBOURNE VIC 3000
(T) 1300 666 444
Transfer of Medical Information
If attending another clinic, you need to fill in a transfer of medical record form from the new practice and sign and fax it to our practice so we can release your medical information.
If you are a new patient to our clinic, then you need to fill in our request for medical records transfer form and we will fax it to your previous clinic to obtain your medical information.
For an overseas transfer, we are unable to release your personal information to an overseas provider unless we have your consent or we are required to do so by law.
(Refer to Appendix 4)
Please direct any queries, complaints, requests for access to medical records to: The Practice Manager.
We welcome your comments and suggestions. Please feel free to speak to your GP or the Practice Manager regarding any issues or concerns.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of a complaint or the outcome, you may contact:
Office of the Health Services Commissioner
570 Burke Street
MELBOURNE VIC 3000
Freecall: 1300 582 113