Medlab Pathology is subject to the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988, and in addition, to the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, and Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002. As a result of our business practices, we may disclose personal information to relevant organisations as required and are permitted by law, and may include but not be limited to:
- Outsourced service providers
- Credit and financial agencies
- Professional advisers such as lawyers, accountants, lawyers, recruitment and training firms.
- Government, both at federal and state/local level as required
Medlab Pathology is a NATA accredited laboratory facility, and must undergo regular inspections for certification and continuing accreditation purposes.
Medlab Pathology will comply will all requests permissible under the various Acts. The following information is a guide as to the general processes of pathology sample collection and testing by our laboratory facility and application of privacy and confidentiality requirements. Privacy and confidentiality encompasses a number of stakeholders, which may include but not necessarily be limited to: patient, doctor and other health care provider/professional, Medlab Pathology staff, contractors, suppliers and the general public.
During the process of pathology sample collection, your doctor/care provider and our staff will require:
- Patient consent to collect information so that various tests can be performed as requested. Most of this information is specified by your care provider at the time of consultation, and is the ideal time to discuss any concerns you may have with your care provider about the test procedures, information that is being recorded and what will happen with your test sample next. If your doctor has requested a PAP test, there is option to opt out of notifying the NSW CCR Pap Register. Your doctor can advise you of the benefits of this very important service.
- If your doctor or care provider will not directly collect the pathology samples themselves, they will issue you with a signed pathology request form, that you, as the patient, must also sign, to take to one of the approved, licenced collection centres, for one of our trained pathology collection staff to collect the samples required. When visiting one of these centres, the collectors will ask you additional questions as per current national and professional guidelines and standards, to establish and confirm your identity, and may also request additional information as may be required for particular tests that your doctor may have ordered. Information that is collected in carrying out the pathology tests requests typically includes:
- Date of Birth
- Home Telephone and/or mobile/work telephone numbers
- Medicare card number, or Veteran Affairs number, and/or private health care fund details as may apply or requested by the requesting care provider.
- Other information that we may deem necessary for performing all tests requested by the care provider or other health professionals (e.g. ethnicity if investigating certain blood disorders such as haemoglobinopathies, thalassaemias, or occupation if investigating an infectious outbreak).
- Additional information that may be collected for individuals, such as anyone applying for a job or has been appointed to a vacant role may include, tax file number, passport number and/or visa details, permanent residency status, banking details for the purpose of electronic fund transfer of salaries and wages, emergency contact details, previous educational history and/or tertiary qualifications, details of previous employment and referee contact details.
- Your contact information can be used by our staff for any matters related to billing, invoices and payment of outstanding invoices. Printed reminders will be sent to the last know mailing address for the patient at the time the pathology samples were requested and collected, and summons reminders may be issued for any outstanding invoices via a third part debt collection agency.
- Information is also sent electronically to Medicare for billing purposes via a secure, health network and communication protocol, which has been certified by Medicare Australia and the Health Insurance Commission (HIC).
- We will make every effort to ensure that information we collect and record is as accurate as possible and every effort is made to comply. However, the accuracy of the information depends largely on the quality and accuracy of the data that has been provided to us. Should an individual have concerns that information stored about them may be incorrect, they should contact our customer service department, or their doctor and advise of the inaccuracies in their records, or update any changes to their personal information, such as a change of address, home number, Medicare number etc.
- NO test results are given to patients over the phone. In most cases, patients will be advised to talk directly to their doctor and request a copy of their test results.
- A patient can be given a hard copy of their results on presentation of a positive photo ID in person, at our Head Office Main Lab Reception, in Auburn, during normal business hours (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm). Every effort is made by our staff to contact the requesting doctor initially and advise that a patient has requested a copy of their pathology results. If the requesting doctor cannot be contacted, the request will be forwarded to the Laboratory Manager or Pathologist-In-Charge for authorisation.
- If the requesting doctor indicates on the pathology request form, a copy can be posted to the patient as instructed.
- When a surgery calls our laboratory for result inquiries, the pathology test results are only given to the requesting doctor or a representative of the requesting surgery. If a doctor or their representatives other than the requesting provider inquiries about pathology test results, the patient’s requesting provides should give authorisation either in written or verbal form. Results will not be given to a second party without the consent of the requesting provider.
- As part of the provision of pathology diagnostic services, Medlab Pathology may collect information from requesting providers and other healthcare professionals, patients, suppliers, employees and contractors. Information may be collected from individuals when various documents and forms are completed (e.g. application form for job vacancies). All such information is handled by the relevant staff and are stored electronically and granted access to staff only with the relevant authorisation levels.
- Medlab Pathology complies with all the relevant anti-discrimination policies, such as those pertaining to an individual’s ethnicity, religious and political beliefs, memberships and affiliations, including professional organisations, trade and political unions, or specific details of health, disability, sexual orientation or criminal record. There may some exceptions to collecting such information, as required by law or as a condition of our staff gaining access to health facilities to perform their duties, typically pathology sample collection from nursing home and similar institutions, where a police criminal record check will have been previously requested for the pathology collector.
- As permitted by law and is practical to do so, individuals have the right to deal with Medlab anonymously, when inquiring about any of our products and services in general.
- There may situations where not providing essential personal information may preclude the individual from the provision of our services (such as bulk billing if no Medicare Card number is provided as an example), or for an employee that does not provide a tax file number within the time limit as permitted by law, to be taxed at the higher 50% marginal tax rate. All such information collected is used only as required and authorised by law and relevant legislation and standards.
- Personal information is stored in different formats that includes paper and electronic forms. Security of information stored is paramount to our organisation and all key stake-holders concerned. All our staff sign privacy and confidentiality policies, and are specifically trained with their department managers in relevant procedures to ensure that privacy and confidentiality are maintained at all times. Access to computer and electronic systems is granted only to authorised personnel, and levels of access are restricted based on the seniority and technical expertise of the individual concerned.
- Our web site, computer servers and associated equipment are equipped and configured with modern electronic security systems, such as firewalls, data encryption, and password protection. We may provide links via our web site to external organisations which may not be subject to or comply with the same standards that we adhere to; individuals need to ascertain themselves if these organisation comply with these standards by contacting these organisations directly.
- Should an individual have concerns that we may have failed in our duty of care and breached privacy rights in any way, or wish to discuss such issues about our policies to contact our Laboratory Manager, where we will endeavour to assist and clarify any such concerns directly. Should there be a need to escalate this further if a satisfactory response may not have been provided to an individual making a complaint, you have the right to lodge a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner by telephone to 1300 363 392, or in writing to the following address:
Office of Privacy Commissioner
GPO Box 5218
Sydney NSW 1042
- You may also inquire or lodge a complaint via the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. Full contact details can be obtained via their web site at; http://www.hccc.nsw.gov.au/
- You may request additional information from us, in writing via:
3-5 Rawson Street
Auburn NSW 2144
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, you may call us directly on (02) 8745-6500, and ask to speak to the Laboratory Manager.
Additional information about privacy I general, may also be obtained by referring directly at the Privacy Commissioner’s website at http://www.privacy.gov.au