Information is definite knowledge acquired or supplied about someone or something
Personal matters refers to areas of a person’s life which are private
Disclosure involves the revealing of information. In general terms an organisation discloses personal information when it releases information to others outside the organisation. It does not include giving individuals information about themselves (i.e. ‘access’).
This involves an organisation giving an individual information about themselves held by the organisation. Giving access may include allowing an individual to inspect personal information or giving a copy of it to them.
An organisation collects personal information if it gathers, acquires or obtains personal information from any source and by any means. Collection includes when an organisation keeps personal information it has come across by accident or has not asked for.
In general terms, use of personal information refers to the handling of personal information within an organisation including ‘the inclusion of information in a publication’.
Information transferred to third parties
No information will be transferred to third parties unless required under relevant legislation or written consent has been given
Retaining copies of information transferred
Copies of information will be retained at the pharmacy wherever possible. If original must be keep a record of the information sent and the details of the third party and what was given will be retained at the pharmacy. For example if Schedule 8 prescription duplicates are taken by Pharmaceutical Services Branch, a record of which duplicates were taken and by whom will be made in the rear of the register.
Controlling Access to information
Staff are only to access information as relevant to their duties in the pharmacy. It is the responsibility of the Pharmacist to determine who may access what information. Staff may not access information that is not relevant.
The conduct of conversations with patients
All conversations are to be conducted in a discreet private manner. Patient’s are to be offered the use of the Patient Counselling area whenever a staff member feels it may be appropriate or if the patient requests it.
How information in transferred so it remains confidential
Wherever possible information will be transferred using secure means.
Responsibility for Applying the Policy
The Pharmacist on duty and the owner have overall responsibility for answering questions on confidentiality. Where they have concerns or doubts, they should contact the Pharmacy Guild or PDL for further advice.
Action when the policy is breached
It is our legal and professional obligation to handle information in the correct manner. Breaching this policy may expose the pharmacy to legal and professional sanction and damage our relationship with our customers. Where this policy is breached it will thoroughly investigated and may result in further action being taken against the employee/s involved. Deliberate breaches of this policy may result in the termination of employment.
Complying with the policy does not remove obligations to comply with applicable legislation.
If a customer is concerned regarding the collection, use, storage or transfer of their health and personal information by the pharmacy please refer them to the pharmacist to discuss the matter further.
Information We Hold
To meet health care needs and legal and professional obligations, we may hold and use records, including patient’s name and address details, their medication record and other health care information that they or their treating doctor or other health practitioner may need to supply us. This personal information will be used only for the purposes of meeting their health care needs, unless they consent to its use for other purposes, or the law permits its use for other purposes.
Much of the information we collect must be collected because the law requires it. For example, details of prescriptions are required to be collected under the National Health Act and State or Territory Pharmacy legislation. Patient’s need to be aware that if they do not provide us with certain information about themselves, in some circumstances we may be unable to provide a service that they require.
Customers Right to Anonymity
Customers may have a right to remain anonymous in certain circumstances. For example, while are we required by law to have the patients name and address to dispense a prescription, the patient can elect to have their Medicare number recorded only per script or to not have their number recorded at all. However, in refusing to record their number at all the script must be dispensed as a private prescription. Customers with concerns as to what must be recorded are to be referred to the pharmacist.
Our disclosure practices
The personal information we hold is stored in a secure manner. We do not routinely disclose personal information to any other person or organisation, although we may need to provide information to other health service providers if it is necessary to help us to provide services. We do provide information to third parties as required under relevant State and Federal Legislation. When we do so, we provide it in a secure manner wherever possible.
Quality and security of information is maintained
We have quality and security procedures in place in our internal practices with regard to the collection and storage of personal information. We use firewalls on computers with internet hook-up and store backup discs either in the dispensary or with the pharmacist.
Special pharmaceutical services and activities
Some activities such as Domiciliary Medication Management Review (Home Medicines Review) or pharmaceutical research will have privacy practices and consent forms specific to the activity. If we are part of the team involved in that activity, we are required to meet our privacy obligations for that activity whether they arise under the Act or otherwise.
Requests For Access
Customers have the right to access and correct the information held by the pharmacy about them. If a customer wants to access the information held about them, give them a “Request for Access” form to complete. Ask them to read the form carefully to understand what their rights are regarding correction of the information held. Please note, information such as prescription details cannot be altered as they form part of a legal record that must be retained by the pharmacy for two years after dispensing. Give the customer a copy of their completed form and inform them of an approximate time frame to provide the information and any fee associated with compiling it. If they request that the information held be changed, please refer them to the pharmacist to discuss this matter. Contact the Pharmacy Guild of Australia if a request to correct the information held is made for legal advice on how to proceed.
Requests for Access by Persons who are not the Patient
Family members such as spouses, parents, children and other relatives do not automatically have the right to access information. In many cases we need the permission of the person involved to release such information. If such a request is made please provide the customer with a “Consent to Disclose Information” form to be completed by the patient. This must be completed and returned to the pharmacy before the information can be released and a copy given to the patient or their agent. If the patient is unable to sign such a form eg has dementia, a current power of attorney form will suffice, but a copy of it must be retained at the pharmacy.
Privacy Consent Forms
The pharmacy needs the permission of the patient to collect health or other information about them for any other purpose than legal reasons specified in the relevant state and federal legislation. If we are collecting it for any other purpose eg Baby club, Loyalty club, we need their permission in writing. A specific form will be developed for each of these purposes if needed and the patient and their family members will need to complete it to allow us to record this information. Please provide them with a copy and retain the original. Customers can opt out of these programs whenever they choose. The patient needs to notify us and we will take steps to remove their name from marketing lists.
If customers have a concern we may be able to resolve the issue. They can speak to the pharmacist in charge regarding the issue. If they are not satisfied they can complete a Privacy Customer Complaints form, which will be referred to the owner. We will deal with any complaints promptly. If the customer is still concerned, they may lodge a formal complaint with the Privacy Commissioner at: Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner, GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 1042