Privacy of patient information
Your personal information includes your personal details and personal health information relating to your treatment and care.
All NSW Health staff, including Far West LHD, are bound by the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (HRIP Act) which applies to health privacy, and Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (PPIP Act) which applies to non-health personal information.
Our doctors, nurses and other staff are bound by law, by the NSW Health Privacy Manual for Health Information, and by a strict code of conduct to keep patient information private and confidential.
Collection of personal information
We collect your personal information so we can provide you with treatment and advice. Test results and other information collected while you are being treated are kept with your health record. We only collect information that is relevant and necessary for your treatment and to manage the health services we provide.
We collect information directly from you, wherever possible. We may need to collect information from other health professionals involved in your care. Occasionally, for example in an emergency, we may also need to collect information from a family member, friend, carer or other person who can help us provide you with the best care.
Your information may be held in paper or electronic files, including visual image and audio formats. We take all reasonable steps to ensure the information we collect about you is stored securely. We are required by law to retain health 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.
Storage, use and disclosure of patient information
The health information Far West LHD collects about patients is held in a health care record that may be both paper and electronic and may include visual images and audio formats.
- We take all reasonable steps to make sure that the health information we collect about patients is stored securely.
- We are required by law to keep health records for certain periods of time, depending on the type of record and facility.
- We will only use or disclose your information for purposes directly related to your treatment, and in ways you would reasonably expect for your current and future care.
- Your personal health information will be shared with staff involved in your care, so they can provide you with the best treatment.
- Relevant information about the health services you have received will be sent to your nominated GP, unless you request otherwise.
- Where necessary, and permitted by law, health information may be sent to other treating health care professionals, health services or hospitals involved in your care, to the Ambulance Service of NSW, to a specialist for a referral, for pathology tests, x-rays and so on.
- We may be required to disclose some patient information to courts and tribunals and to State and Commonwealth government agencies to comply with laws regarding the reporting of notifiable diseases and statistics, and for 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 and other purposes required for the operation of the NSW Health Service, including safety and quality improvement initiatives. Where relevant, we may need to disclose patient information to Medicare, private health funds, the Department of Veterans Affairs or The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards.
- We may use your information to contact you regarding patient satisfaction surveys to help us evaluate and improve our services.
In line with privacy guidelines we may use or disclose your information for:
public interest research projects complying with strict protocols and approved by a Human Research and Ethics Committee
staff and student training purposes
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 account of personal information is used, and the personal information is handled in accordance with strict standards.
We will seek your consent before the use or disclosure of patient information for purposes other than those listed above.
Access to your information
You are entitled to request access to all personal information the Far West LHD holds about you, including your health record.
You can make a request for specific information from Far West LHD and we will release it without the need for a formal application, unless there are reasons to require one.
Access to some information will require a formal access application. If you haven't been able to get the information you need in any other way you can formally request specific information from Far West LHD using our Application to access personal information form (PDF 625.82KB).
If you believe a health service provider has failed to protect your privacy, you can request an internal review by Far West LHD. Contact our Privacy Contact Officer.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review, you can appeal to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, who will investigate your complaint.