Protecting your health information
In the course of providing high quality healthcare to our communities, we collect personal health information from our patients. This includes information about your physical or mental health, disability, provision of health services or genetic information.
Find out how to:
- Access your personal health information
- Amend the accuracy of your personal health information
- Learn about the privacy of patient information
We also provide other avenues/administrative processes for access to information that is not personal/health information.
Access your personal health information
Your personal information held by Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) is protected by the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act.
The Health Records Information and Privacy Act protects a specific type of personal information – referred to as personal health information – including information about your physical or mental health, disability, provision of health services or genetic information.
You are entitled to request access (subject to some limited exceptions) to all personal information including your own health records. You may apply for access to your personal information under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act, Information Protection Principle 7.
For further information, refer to the privacy information leaflet.
What sort of information can I ask for?
You can ask for any kind of personal information pertaining to you, which is contained in your health record and created by the health service agency you are making the request from. This information may include emergency, outpatient and inpatient notes, pathology results and medical imaging reports, the health service agency correspondence, medication sheets and discharge summaries.
You are also entitled to view your health information, and this can be organised by contacting the relevant facility. A health care provider or health information manager must be present for this viewing.
Access to your personal health information may be declined in special circumstances, such as where giving you access would put you or another person at risk of harm. Access may also be declined if parts of your health record contains information which, by law, cannot be given to you, such as information about another person.
How do I request information?
Complete a Release of Information Form and send to the Health Information Department at your hospital. You will be asked to supply your full name and any aliases, your address and date of birth, and details of the information you are requiring with dates if possible.
Visit our find a health service page to access contact details of our hospitals.
Do I need to verify my identity?
As a general guide health information is considered to be particularly confidential in nature and thus great care is taken by a health service agency to ensure appropriate identification procedures are followed.
You will need to provide at least 2 forms of identification including photograph identification where possible. Acceptable identification includes: passport, driver license, Medicare card, birth certificate and health care card if you are seeking a discount.
How do I verify my identity if my application is sent by mail?
Please photocopy the two forms of identification you are relying on and have these witnessed by a Justice of the Peace as true copies of the originals.
How do I access my child’s health information?
If you are a parent requesting health information about your child you will need to show that you are in fact the child’s parent and an original birth certificate will need to be sighted or an authenticated copy of the birth certificate sent by mail.
If you are a separated parent you will need to show the child’s birth certificate and also evidence that you are the child’s parent. Each parent has authority to request the child’s health information, unless the Family Court has specifically removed that right from you.
If the child is over 14 years of age it is necessary to have authority from the child as well as yourself.
If the child is over the age of 16 years it is appropriate for the child to make the request for release of information from their record.
How much will it cost me to make a request for release of my personal health information?
There is a standard fee of $33 (which includes GST) for a maximum of 80 pages* and this is payable with your request application. You may pay in person at the cashier’s office (where credit card and EFTPOS facilities are available) or by money order, cheque or credit card details in a posted application.
* Pages in excess of 80 incur a cost of 40 cents per page (which includes GST). There is no discount on this service.
How will I receive the information I have requested?
Depending on the format of tthe information you request, the health service will photocopy the requested material, print the requested material or save the information to a disc and send it to you by mail, or you may collect the information in person from your hospital.
Who do I refer to if I have any more questions regarding completing the request form for Release of Information?
If you have any further queries regarding completing the request form, please contact the Health Information Department at your hospital and you will be referred to a Health Information Manager for assistance.
What do I do if I am not satisfied with the response to my request for information?
If you have any complaints regarding the service provided to you please contact the Health Information Department at your hospital or the Local Health District Health Information Manager at PO Box 4061, Dubbo NSW 2830. If further action is required, the process for an official complaint or review of the information request will be explained to you. Alternatively, you may apply for access under the GIPA Act and you may be required to complete a formal access application.
Amend the accuracy of your personal health information
You are entitled to have your personal information, including your health information, amended to correct inaccuracies. If you think your personal or health information held by Western NSW Local Health District is incorrect, you can ask the Local Health District to correct it under:
- Information Protection Principle 8 in the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act.
- Part 6A of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act.
- Health Privacy Principle 8 under the Health Records Information and Privacy Act. If you believe the health information we hold about you is incorrect, please let your health care provider or the relevant facility Health Information and Record Service know. Appropriate action will be taken and you will be informed of the outcome. This action may include correction of the error or addition of a notation to your health record.
To assist us in maintaining accurate health information please advise your health care provider, relevant administrative staff or the relevant facility Health Information Service if, for example, you change your name, address, contact details, or general practitioner details.
Privacy of Patient Information
This leaflet provides you with details of what personal information is held about you, how you can access this information and the purposes for which your personal information is used and disclosed. Your personal information includes your personal details and personal health information relating to your treatment/care.
Collection of Personal Information
We collect your personal information so that we can provide you with treatment and advice. Test results and further 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 who have treated you. In an emergency, we may also need to collect information from a family member, friend, carer or other person who can help us to 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.
If you do not wish for us to collect certain information about you, you need to tell us and we will discuss with you any consequences this may have for your health care.
Use and Disclosure
All staff are bound by law and ethical practice to keep your information confidential. Western NSW Local Health District will 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, in order to determine the best treatment for you and to assist in the management of the health services provided to you.
Relevant information about the health services you have received will be sent to your nominated GP, unless you request otherwise. Where relevant, information will be sent to other treating health services or hospitals involved in your care, or 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 that help us to evaluate and improve our services.
We may use or disclose your information for the following purposes in accordance with Statutory Guidelines issued under privacy law:
- For public interest research projects complying with strict protocols and approved by a Human Research & Ethics Committee
- For staff and student training purposes
- For 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 prior to the use or disclosure of patient information for purposes other than those listed above, such as for fundraising activities.
Access to your Information
You are entitled to request access to all personal information including your health record held by Western NSW Local Health District.
Key Privacy Resources
For information relating to Western NSW Local Health District and NSW Health’s compliance with privacy law, please refer to the following documents:
- NSW Health Privacy Manual
- Western NSW Local Health District Privacy Management Annual Report
Other Privacy Resources that may be of use to you:
If you would like further information relating to the privacy of your personal health information, please refer to the Local Health District Privacy Information leaflet (in English) which you can obtain from any Western NSW Local Health District health service.
The Privacy Acts and related Regulations and links are listed below:
- Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002
- Statutory Guidelines pursuant to the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002
- Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998
- Health Records and Information Privacy Regulation 2012
- Health Records and Information Privacy Code of Practice 2005
- Privacy and Personal Information Protection Regulation 2005
- Privacy Code of Practice (General) 2003
If you have a complaint relating to your privacy on the grounds that you believe a health service provider has contravened an Information Protection Principle or Health Privacy Principle, you may wish to request an internal review to be carried out by Western NSW Local Health District.
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the internal review, you may lodge an appeal with the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, who will further investigate your complaint.
For further information:
- Contact the Privacy Contact Officer (details below)
- Contact the Office of the NSW Privacy Commissioner on telephone 1800 472 679 or go to the Privacy NSW website