Privacy and Pathology South
Pathology South is a specialist medical service which provides an analytical and interpretive service to health professionals to assist in producing optimal health outcomes for you. The quality of the results we produce depends on a wide range of information that we collect from you, your Doctor and other people and organisations involved in your care.
Pathology South is committed to complying with Commonwealth legislation governing the privacy of personal information collected by businesses and to protecting and safeguarding your privacy when you deal with us. National privacy legislation requires us to inform you about why we collect this information, how securely we keep it, who we may share it with and how you can gain access to it. We can only collect this information with your consent. We assure you that our service handles your personal information securely, ethically and in your best interest at all times.
Information we require:
We need to collect and record the following personal information on your behalf:
a) Your full name and date of birth to ensure that specimens we collect from you are properly labelled and cannot get mixed up with other specimens.
b) Your hospital medical record number if you are a hospital inpatient.
c) Your Medicare number and private health insurer’s name and policy number so that we can obtain payments from them for tests performed.
d) Your secure postal address to send your account to.
e) Your doctor’s name and address to send your results to.
f) The reason your doctor has requested these tests to enable us to interpret the test results and advise your doctor on their implications
We need your consent to enable us to talk to your doctor about your test results in the event we find something that needs further explanation or investigation.
What happens to the data?
On some occasions we may disclose your results or private information to parties other than your doctor. For example we may:
a) Discuss your results with another medical specialist if we feel that this is necessary for your health care.
b) Be required by law to disclose the results of your tests to another authority; for example if we find that you have a notifiable disease that public health authorities need to know about.
c) Be required by law to add the results of your tests, or the fact that you have had certain tests performed, to a national register. Your results will be added with an anonymous identifier wherever possible.
Our pathology laboratory is inspected for accreditation purposes every three years by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) on behalf of the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) and the National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council (NPAAC). During this inspection they view our records and ensure our information security is appropriate.
We maintain stringent procedures for ensuring the accuracy of your data at all times. Our staff are specifically trained in data entry and our systems are specially designed for recording pathology information securely, with built in features that minimise the possibility of errors occurring during the processing of your tests.
Pathology South places great importance on the security of all information associated with our customers, clients and contractors. We have security measures in place to protect against the loss, misuse and alteration of personal information under our control. Personal information is de-identified or destroyed securely when no longer required by us. Information stored within our computer systems can only be accessed by those with authority and computer network password sanctions. The network is securely located behind a professional ‘firewall’ maintained by the State Government’s I.T. services.
We are happy to discuss data and privacy issues relating to your personal information. The Director – Pathology Services can be contacted on (03) 6166 8410 to arrange an appointment.
Access and Correction
We strongly advise you to contact your doctor first if you wish to discuss what the results of your tests mean. He/she is fully acquainted with your full medical history, which is critical to correctly interpreting many laboratory results. If you wish to discuss the results of your tests with our pathologists please make an appointment to do so by telephoning (03) 6166 8410. If you wish to receive a hard copy of your results your doctor must state “copy to patient” on your pathology request form. In addition to this we require a written request, signed by yourself, in order to release these to you. When attending our laboratory to discuss or collect copies of your results you will be required to provide at least two forms of identification, such as:
a) Your driver’s licence with a recent photo of you;
b) an official photo identification card from a recognised organisation; and
c) a recent account addressed to you from Aurora Energy or your local council.
Inaccurate information will be corrected upon receiving advice to this effect from you.
Under some circumstances there may be a charge of $50 to you for this service.
Identifiers and anonymity
We use unique specimen identification numbers to track specimens as they are processed in our laboratory. This means that for the majority of the time our staff are only dealing with specimen identification numbers and not patients’ names. Consequently most staff are unaware of what name is associated with the specimens they are handling.
Exchange of data between laboratories
This laboratory participates in external quality control programmes which may involve the release of data collected as a result of processing your specimens. This is to improve the quality of service and results we provide to you and your doctor. All personal information is removed from the data or samples prior to being released from our laboratory.
We will restrict the collection of sensitive information to the absolute minimum required to enable us to interpret the results of your tests. You may elect not to provide this information on the grounds that your doctor is aware of these details and you would prefer him/her to make the interpretation. If at any time you feel that our staff are asking for sensitive information, or for information that appears to you to be irrelevant or unnecessary, you may decline to provide it. However, this may make it difficult for us to proceed with the testing at that time and we may need to discuss the implications of this with you or your doctor.