PROTECTION & USE OF YOUR PERSONAL & HEALTH INFORMATION
Everyone working at or for Swan Hill District Health has a moral, ethical and legal duty to keep information about you confidential. We only pass on information about you to those who are involved in your treatment, or if authorised by you or by law. We have strict rules on who can access or receive your personal information and all staff are bound by these.
Why do we collect this information?
Your medical record is the means of communication for the health professionals at Swan Hill District Health who contribute to your care.
It is necessary for us to collect and keep this information to ensure that each health care professional involved in your care has all the facts.
Your previous history of care can help us quickly identify which treatments are likely to be safe and effective for you. It is a means of communication amongst your healthcare team.
What do we collect?
When you become a patient of Swan Hill District Health as an inpatient, resident of an aged care facility, or through our Emergency, Community or Outpatient services, a health record is created. This will contain your name, address, date of birth, contact details, information required for billing purposes, and medical information regarding the nature of the problem you are seeking treatment for, together with your past medical history and future treatment plans.
Your health information or your medical record is the basis for planning your care and treatment. The healthcare professionals who care for you at Swan Hill District Health compile your medical record.
While you have contact with our health service your treating team will collect ongoing information about you, your condition and how you respond to treatment. Every time you attend the health service new information is then added to your health record.
We ask you for information so that you can receive the proper care and treatment. We keep this information, together with details of your care because it may be needed if we see you again.
My Health Record
Swan Hill District Health participate in the uploading of discharge summaries to My Health Record. Your discharge summary will be automatically uploaded to My Health Record unless you advise admission staff or ward clerks you don’t want it uploaded, which can be done at any time during your stay.
For more information regarding My Health Record, please visit: www.myhealthrecord.gov.au
Who has access?
YOUR TREATING TEAM
So that we can work together for your benefit while you are a patient here, your health information is shared with the health professionals on your treating team.
Other health care facilities that you attend in the future may ask to have access to your health information to assist in planning your ongoing care.
Sometimes your local doctor may request access to your medical information. It is usual procedure to provide a discharge summary to your local general practitioner.
RESEARCH, TEACHING AND QUALITY
We may use some of your health information for the purpose of research, statistical analysis or quality improvement activities. We may also use the information for teaching of our staff. Whenever possible we remove any information which identifies you before it is used for this purpose. Information in these instances is only available to approved health professionals who must abide by our confidentiality policy.
We are required to report information to the following authorities where relevant (these authorities are also bound by privacy laws and principles):
· Victorian Cancer Registry
· Victorian Perinatal Data Collection Unit
· Victorian Communicable Diseases Prevention & Control Unit
· Safer Care Victoria
· Victorian Agency for Health Information
· If the record is subpoenaed for court.
· Where there is immediate danger to an individual or to the public.
· Victorian Department of Health (statistical information only-contains no names).
How is the information stored?
The information collected about you is stored in secure areas and is only accessed by authorised staff. It can only be destroyed in accordance with the standards set by the Public Records Office Victoria and the Public Records Act 1973. The main patient medical record is kept for a minimum of 15 years after the last attendance, and 30 years if you attended the hospital as a child.
What if I object to sharing my information with person(s) who would normally have access?
If you wish to withdraw consent from sharing your information with person(s) or agencies that would normally have access to your information (e.g. you may not wish your local GP to receive a copy of the discharge summary), and we are not bound by legislation to report the information, then you can state this on the ‘Patient Authority for Release of Information’ form, which you will be asked to sign on admission or pre-admission to the health service.
If you have any concerns or queries regarding the information that is collected and how it may be used, please speak with your treating team or contact the following staff:
CHIEF HEALTH INFORMATION
Phone: (03) 5033 9341
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
Phone: (03) 5033 9489
PRIVACY & DATA PROTECTION
Phone Toll Free: 1300 666 444
Web site: www.cpdp.vic.gov.au
GENERAL INFORMATION REGARDING FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (FOI) REQUESTS
How do I apply to access medical records?
Applications must be made in writing and can be made by completing the attached application form which should include a legible photocopy of your photo identification that shows your signature (e.g. Driver’s license, Passport), as well as the application fee. All of these requirements will ensure your request is valid and can be processed in a timely manner.
How much will it cost?
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 states that a non-refundable application fee of $31.80 from 1st July, 2023 and must accompany all applications. If you are the holder of a current Health Care Card or Pension Card, this application fee will be waived. Legible copies of the applicant’s current Health Care Card or Pension Card must be provided with the application.
An administration fee of $20.00 per hour is applied for processing requests. If viewing records only, a supervision rate of $20.00 per hour applies. Photocopying is charged at .20 cents per page and discs supplied for radiology records are charged at $5.00 per disc. Postage is charged at $5.00.
All charges must be paid before the requested information is released.
Can I access someone else’s medical records?
Reasonable steps must be taken to satisfy that the applicant has the ‘right to access’ the medical records. Swan Hill District Health has a duty to protect the privacy of personal information.
The patient’s written and signed authority or documentation which proves guardianship or Power of Attorney must be supplied with the application form. If the patient is deceased, the Legal Representative (executor of Will or administrator of estate) or Senior Next of Kin’s written and signed authority must be provided with the application.
For persons between 16 and 18 years of age, it is preferable that the patient apply for access to their own record. If this is not possible, written and signed authority from the patient must be supplied with the application. If there are any Family Court Orders in place, a copy of the order should be provided with the application.
How long will my application take to process?
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 states that upon receipt of a valid application, the applicant must be notified of a decision within 30 days. This may be subject to extensions that are permitted under the Act, of which you will be notified.
If you require medical records urgently for Court proceedings, contact your Lawyer; a subpoena to produce documents may be issued to send records to the Court.
If you require medical records for medical appointments, Health Information Services is able to provide copies of your medical records directly to external health care providers with your consent. Contact Health Information Services on (03) 5033 9319 for queries relating to the provision of information to current healthcare providers.
Will I receive all of the records?
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 allows for access to information to be fully or partially denied if there is information held which relates to the personal affairs of a person other than the patient or information which is obtained in confidence. Such decisions can be appealed to VCAT at the discretion of the applicant.
Public records are required to be kept for a prescribed length of time under the Public Records Act 1973, after which they may be destroyed. As a result, it may not be possible to provide records which are from a significant time ago. If records relating to your request are no longer kept, you will be notified.
Where do I send my application?
Freedom of Information Officer
Swan Hill District Health
48 Splatt Street
Swan Hill, Victoria, 3585
Information Sharing Entities requesting information under Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS) and/or Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS): Email the request to email@example.com or Phone 03 5033 9319 during the hours of 8am-4.30pm.
For urgent requests outside of these hours ring 03 5033 9300 and request to speak to the Nursing Supervisor. An ‘Information Sharing Medical Record Form FVISS and CISS’ will be provided.