To help us care for you when you come to hospital, we need to know:
- your name
- date of birth
- emergency contact details
- the reason you came to hospital
- your GP (general practitioner) contact details
- any tests or treatments you've had
- your Medicare number or other health care identifier
- any other health information that may be important.
This information becomes part of your medical record. Each time you come to hospital, we add new information to your medical record.
When you come to hospital for health care and you give us your personal information, we will assume you allow us to collect that information.
Whenever possible, we will get your information straight from you but we may also need extra information from other health care professionals who've looked after you, or from a family member, friend or carer.
Using your information
There are three main reasons we collect information about you:
- better health care – your medical history will help us decide which tests you might need and which treatments are best for you
- hospital management – to make sure we have the right staff and services on hand to care for you
- evaluating and improving care through research – all research is approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC), and researchers will never use information that might identify you without your consent.
Protecting your information
Your information is stored as a paper and/or electronic medical record and may also contain images, such as xrays or photos, or an audio or video recording.
We have strict rules about the safe storage of information to make sure it is not lost, misused or seen by people without the right authority.
Each member of staff is bound by the St Vincent's code of conduct and must keep your information private. We teach staff about privacy and perform random checks to make sure information is handled properly.
Who else may see your information
We may share your information outside the hospital so you can get the care and help you need. For example, we may provide information about you to:
- other health services, hospitals or specialists involved in your care
- your GP
- the ambulance service
- spiritual and pastoral care workers
- students and other staff for training
- other services to help protect your life, health or welfare, such as in an emergency
- government departments, if you are receiving health care services through an arrangement with that department e.g. Defence or Department of Veterans Affairs other government departments and local health districts responsible for health, aged care and disability to help them provide health services to you
- other organisations who have a contract with St Vincent's Health Australia to provide certain services, such as help in accreditation, audit or survey processes
- research institutions or sponsors working in collaboration with SVHA or are part of a government department, in accordance with privacy laws
- private health insurance companies and Medicare Australia
- anyone you give permission to receive your information, including relatives, close friends and carers
- someone handling a complaint, legal action, or claim against the hospital or a staff member
- anyone to whom we are required by law to disclose your personal information to, and
- the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) System Operator, if you are registered in that system.
We may also use your information:
- to contact you for feedback about your experience, so we can continue to improve the quality and safety of our service
- for billing and debt recovery.
We may give general information about your condition to your next of kin or a close relative, unless you ask us not to.
Sometimes, we have to share information about you without your consent. By law, we could give your information to:
- child protection agencies if there are concerns about the safety, welfare or wellbeing of a child or young person
- the police if we learn about a serious crime, including assault, domestic violence or abuse
- government agencies for statutory reporting purposes, such as to report a notifiable disease e.g. hepatitis - governments use this information to warn the community about the spread of infection and disease
- the court if ordered by subpoena.
If we have to share information under these conditions, we will only share the information that is needed.
Accessing your information
You have the right to see your medical record and any other personal information St Vincent’s Health Australia holds about you. To see your record you should write or send an email request to our privacy officer and include a copy of your identification. If you want a copy of your record you may have to pay a fee for photocopying.
If you think any of the information in your medical record is wrong, you have the right to ask that it be changed.
If you don't understand any information in your records, it is best to speak with someone in your healthcare team.
St Vincent's Health Australia will not contact you for fundraising purposes unless you give specific consent. If you would like to be contacted about fundraising, please speak with one of our staff about completing the fundraising consent form.
If you have questions or concerns about your information privacy
If you have any questions or concerns about your medical record, or how your information is stored and shared, please speak to a staff member.
If you wish to make a complaint about your information privacy, please contact the patient liaison officer.