The Department of Human Services has adopted a Code of Fair Information Practice to ensure that all public hospitals and health units comply with a set of Privacy Principles. These Principles regulate the way in which personal health information is collected, used, disclosed, stored and transferred.
The Principles require the Royal Adelaide Hospital to take all reasonable steps to ensure that any information about you that it collects:
- is accurate and up-to-date
- contains only relevant details about you
- is only provided to those people who need it to treat and care for you or who have responsibilities related to your treatment and care, and
- is protected from misuse and unauthorised access or disclosure to others.
Your personal health information
Health information includes your personal details, health status and your medical and social history. This information is kept in your medical record and many details are also stored electronically. This information must clearly distinguish you from other patients, and so needs to be detailed and accurate.
Staff (including students and trainees) treating and caring for you need access to your personal health information so that they can plan and provide you with the best possible treatment and care.
Although the supply of your health information is voluntary, except where the collection of this information is required under legislation (see later), staff have an obligation to record details of any services they provide to you. Where you decide to withhold or restrict access to your health information, you should be aware that this could affect your treatment and care, especially if this information is directly related to any future treatment and care that you may require.
Some of your health information may be used to plan for future services and to help the Royal Adelaide Hospital improve the quality and safety of its patient services. Wherever possible, we will ensure that any information used for these purposes cannot identify you.
Providing your information to others
Your medical record is an essential means of communication between your treating doctor and other health providers, such as nurses, pathologists, radiologists and physiotherapists. It is essential that these providers have access to your personal health information in order to provide the best care for you.
The Royal Adelaide Hospital is part of the wider public hospital and health system in South Australia. Some health information stored electronically by this Hospital is made available through computer systems to other health care providers within the public hospital and health system who are involved in your care. This exchange of information also ensures that, wherever you are treated, health staff will have immediate access to your medical record, especially in an emergency.
When you go home, your treating doctor will usually send a discharge letter to your local doctor or to other relevant care providers, such as the Royal District Nursing Service or domiciliary care services. This letter summarises the treatment and care you will have received and provides any special instructions or information that your local doctor or other health providers need to know for your further care.
Sometimes, your local doctor or other health providers may request more information on your treatment and care at this Hospital, in order to provide you with any further care that you may need. If you prefer that this information is not provided to others, please discuss this with the staff caring for you.
Legal disclosure of your information
Laws, such as the Public and Environmental Health Act, the South Australian Health Commission Act and the Motor Vehicles Act, require doctors to report certain information on patients who have specific medical conditions.
Some authorities are legally entitled to certain information about matters such as Medicare eligibility, the registering of births and deaths, circumstances of death, drink-driving and notifiable diseases, including infectious diseases and cancer.
Teaching and Research
The Royal Adelaide Hospital has a commitment to teaching and has formed a strong association with local and some interstate universities. We have made a commitment to these universities to provide teaching and practical experience to their medical students, student nurses, midwives, allied health and other health-related professionals. This means that, as part of their education, these students and trainees visit this Hospital and work alongside our staff, as members of the treating team, to gain experience in applying their knowledge.
As a patient of this Hospital, your personal health information may be used in teaching students and trainees under the supervision of our staff. In these circumstances, your information will be treated confidentially by students, trainees and their teachers.
Your personal health information may also contribute to medical research. All research undertaken in this Hospital is approved by an ethics committee and performed in accordance with National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines.
Although you are not obliged to take part in any particular teaching or research activity, if you are invited to participate, you will be provided with further information about that activity. If you have any concerns about teaching or research activities at this Hospital, please discuss these with your treating doctor or nurse.
Access to your medical record
Except for certain legal exemptions under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, you have the right to request access to your medical record and any other document kept by this Hospital. You may do this either personally or through another person that you nominate. You also have a right to a copy or to view this record and to apply to have the record amended if you believe that any information it contains is incorrect, out-of-date or misleading.
A fee may be charged for dealing with your FOI application, but may be waived in some cases.
To obtain access to your medical record, please ask to speak to the Freedom of Information Officer.
Patient Services Adviser (RAH)
Phone: (08) 7117 2385
If you are not satisfied with the response you have received, you may wish to contact the following organisations for further advice and assistance:
Departmental Ethics and Privacy Committee
Department of Human Services
PO Box 287
Rundle Mall SA 5000
Phone: (08) 8226 6963
Fax: (08) 8226 7088
South Australian State Ombudsman
Consumer Health Complaint Unit
5th Floor, East Wing
50 Grenfell Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Privacy Committee of South Australia
GPO Box 464
Adelaide SA 5001
Phone: (08) 8204 8791