23 May, 2019

Privacy and Confidentiality

When our doctors nurses and receptionists are communicating by phone or in person, directly with you the patient, consent to disclose your own health information to you, is naturally implied. This is provided that you are deemed, as judged by a health professional, to be mentally fit and of an appropriate age to be receiving that information.

In order to access the health information of someone other than yourself, the patient for whom information is being sought must strictly provide prior consent to our staff, before disclosure of any of their health information to you. And this includes discussing the health of older dependents, such as teenage children, where the lines of consent are less well defined.

The current legal view regarding the age of medical consent for minors, is that this should be determined by the doctor on a case-by-case basis. Whilst 18 years is the legal age in Australia to vote, drive or apply for a credit card, when it comes to health matters and confidentiality, age 16 is generally the accepted age at which a child will often be deemed to be of consenting age to be able to make decisions about their health and maintain control of the privacy of their health information. Due to variation in maturity from child to child, or for other developmental or health reasons, a child of age 16 may not be considered fit to make decisions about their own health, and on the other hand, in some exceptional cases, other teens may be assessed as being sufficiently mature and able to provide consent at an even younger age than 16.  In most cases, if a patient is under the age of 16, implied consent applies whereby, parents and guardians will be able to access and discuss health information of their dependents with our staff.

At Airlie Women’s Clinic, we strive to ensure that privacy and confidentially of our patients is upheld following accepted legal and ethical guidelines. It is essential that these principles are adhered to in order to protect patient doctor confidentiality.  If you would like a family member, partner or a non-relative to be able to access your medical file, your explicit consent will be required in order to disclose your medical information. Once you have provided the relevant consent to a member of our staff, specifying the details of who and what may be accessed, this will be noted on your file and can be modified at any time. The disclosure instructions can as broad or as specific as is required, and can name more than one person. Patients are also able to give consent for a specific result/period, rather than an indefinite open access to their medical record.

If you have any concerns or queries related to the Privacy Act and the impact on your health information, please telephone the receptionist at Airlie Women’s Clinic or discuss this with your doctor at your next visit.