Application of Amendments to the Privacy Act (Cth) 1988 as They Affect Private Clinical Practice
Beran, Roy G.
Medicine and Law: World Association for Medical Law 2003; 22(4): 599-612
INTRODUCTION: The amendments to the Privacy Act (Cth) 1988 came into force on 21st December 2001. These changes expand the impact of the Act to include the private sector and will have considerable consequences upon healthcare delivery in Australia. This paper reports the findings of a survey, which examined the implications of the Act for doctors in private practice. METHOD: Both Government and private agencies were canvassed to seek clarification of various aspects of the Act. Responses were analysed to determine what needed to be done to ensure compliance with the Act and were reviewed in the light of published material provided by commentators. RESULTS: Of twenty-one contacts, only ten responded of which five were Government agencies. Government agencies chose to deflect commentary and did not respond to specific questions. The Medical Defence Organisations (MDOs) provided the most useful commentary, highlighting various 'grey areas' of concern. DISCUSSION: Government agencies tasked with the enforcement of the Act were unhelpful in providing useful guidelines to specific questions. MDOs offered by guidelines to risk management obviate litigation. This survey emphasised the concept that legislation developed for general purposes required redefinition to be applicable to the medical profession and had the capacity to negatively impact upon patient well-being.
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