At X-Ray & Imaging the privacy of your personal and sensitive information is of great importance to us. We are committed to collecting only the information that is necessary for providing medical care, specifically in diagnostic medical imaging. We are committed to resolving any problems with privacy issues as quickly as possible.
We are subject to a number of obligations to protect the privacy, security and confidentiality of personal information. Depending on the circumstances, these may include the Australian Privacy Principles (‘APPs’) in the Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act) and laws relating to the protection of health records.
COLLECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
In order to provide a high-quality medical imaging service, it is necessary for X-Ray & Imaging to collect and store personal information including sensitive information as defined in the Privacy Act.
Personal Information means information about an individual who is identified or could reasonably be identified.
Sensitive Information is a subset of Personal Information which, along with health information, includes racial or ethnic origin, criminal records, religious beliefs, political opinions and sexual preferences.
The type of information collected and stored by X-Ray & Imaging includes:
- Identifying information – name, gender, date of birth
- Contact information – address, phone numbers, referring doctor
- Health information – past medical history, medical imaging test results
- Billing information – Medicare, Health Care Card, Private Health Insurance, Workcover, Motor Accident Commission, Veteran’s Affairs details
Information is sourced from the patient, the referring doctor and the reporting radiologist or nuclear medicine physician and stored in the Radiology Information System (RIS). Medical images are stored on the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS).
Should you prefer not to provide us with this information, it may not be possible for us to provide you with the medical care you request.
USE OF COLLECTED PERSONAL INFORMATION
The collected information is used for a number of purposes:
- To assist in providing an accurate and comprehensive medical imaging report
- To allow contact with patients in case an appointment needs to be changed or to provide an appointment reminder by phone call or SMS
- To allow contact with entities such as insurance companies when required
- To facilitate the billing and debt collection process
DISCLOSURE OF COLLECTED PERSONAL INFORMATION
We may need to disclose personal information to organisations/persons where reasonably necessary and is relevant in the context of your treatment. This might include disclosing information to:
- health professionals involved in the care of the patient
- hospital medical staff
- registered health professionals granted access to our secure referrer portal
- pathology professionals analysing samples taken during a medical imaging procedure
- your representative(s) eg a guardian, carer, translator/intermediary and/or authorised representative (such as a family member or legal advisor)
- other institutions directly related to the individual’s medical treatment such as health funds for billing, processing of claims and auditing purposes
- health services or enforcement bodies in situations where X-Ray & Imaging is informed that there is a serious threat to life, health or safety
- court in response to a subpoena or to a “notice of non-party disclosure”
- local and offshore contractors whom we have partnered with, under strict confidentiality and privacy requirements, including those that relate to cross border disclosure, to provide services to our business operations
- consultant medical specialists or other health professionals who inform us are involved in your ongoing health care and who have been requested to provide further advice on your medical condition
We may disclose personal information for other purposes such as:
- legislative and regulatory compliance requirements
- to comply with enforcement related activities conducted by a law enforcement body (in this circumstance we will make a note of this disclosure)
- billing and debt recovery
- servicing and repair of equipment
- activities directly related to the provision of health services to an individual where the individual would reasonably expect disclosure
In the case of one of our patients becoming incapable of giving or communicating their consent to disclose, we may disclose personal information to a ‘responsible person’ (as defined in the Privacy Act 1988) if it is necessary in order to provide appropriate treatment, care or for compassionate reasons where there is a reasonable expectation we would do so, unless the individual has requested otherwise. We do not sell your personal or health information.
ACCESSING PERSONAL INFORMATION
Medical imaging reports should be accessed by the patient via their referring clinician. This allows the results to be explained in the context of any further testing that may be required and the ongoing treatment program.
Patients may request access to their personal information. There may be charges related to the provision of imaging studies on film or CD and it will be necessary for the patient to present to the practice in person and provide proof of identity.
If your request is denied, a reason will be given to you.
Patients are encouraged to help X-Ray & Imaging to ensure that stored personal information is accurate by notifying us of any changes to details such as name or address.
PATIENT ACCESS TO REPORTS
Patient access to medical records is in line with the AMA patient access to medical records policy (Guidelines for Doctors on Disclosing Medical Records to Third Parties 2010). In particular, note should be made of the following statement:
“Other than exceptional circumstances permitted or required by law, medical records should not, without the patient’s express up-to-date written consent, be disclosed to persons other than the patient unless the patient would reasonably expect such disclosure to take place, in accordance with relevant privacy legislation. For example, it is likely a patient who has consented to the collection of their personal information for their health care may reasonably expect the doctor to share the patient’s medical record amongst the treating health care team.”
Thus in general, it is inappropriate to release patient results to persons other than the patient’s referring medical practitioner, except where the patient has provided express written consent. This requirement may be waived if there is a genuine medical emergency or a request from an appropriate legal authority. In the event the patient has changed medical practitioner, the report may be released to the new practitioner, provided there is reasonable assurance that he/she is the patient’s new practitioner. If there is any uncertainty about this, clerical staff should discuss the matter with the radiologist or General Manager.
STAFF ACCESS TO MEDICAL RECORDS REPORTS
Medical records are confidential to the patient and the referring doctor. Staff, including doctors, have access insofar as the records relate to the patient’s medical care and Practice management issues. Limited access for quality improvement, research, teaching and other Practice activities may be appropriate subject to compliance with the provisions of the Privacy Act.
PRACTICE CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT
The Practice policy regarding the confidentiality of client information and data is as follows:
- All data and information concerning patients is strictly confidential.
- Confidentiality must be maintained outside work and work hours.
- Staff may only discuss patient information with the patient’s physicians where this is relevant to the patient, their treatment and the maintenance of their medical records.
- Access to patient’s medical records will only be granted to the patient’s referring or treating physician and when required by subpoena, or with the patient’s written permission.
- If a staff member removes patient information or medical records from the Practice, the information must be transported securely.
- Any reports, publications or images arising from research or education using patient information will be without patients’ identifying data.
- Staff are to be counselled in the specific requirements of confidentiality for the Practice as part of the induction process.
- X-Ray & Imaging conducts training with all staff to ensure that privacy protocols are adhered to.
- Confidential waste includes any documentation that includes patient particulars, e.g. reports, (radiology or otherwise), letters, billing slips or registration paperwork.
- Confidential waste is to be shredded or placed in a secure confidential waste disposal bin.
Any complaints regarding the treatment of personal information should be directed to the General Manager, X-Ray & Imaging, PO Box 259, BUDDINA, QLD, 4575. All complaints are investigated and responded to in a timely manner. If a complainant is not satisfied with the response from X-Ray & Imaging, the matter may be referred to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) – via www.oaic.gov.au or 1300 363 992.