What happens to information about me?
When you become a patient of Latrobe Regional Hospital a medical record is made. It contains your name, address, contact details and information about your health issues and the treatment that you receive.
Every time you attend or have contact with the hospital, new information is added to your record. Generally, we are required to keep your medical records for 15 years after your last attendance. The record is then destroyed using secure measures such as shredding.
If you require information regarding specific time periods for record retention please contact the Manager of the Health Information Unit at Latrobe Regional Hospital on 5173 8108.
Why is this information necessary?
It is necessary for us to collect and keep this information to ensure that each health care professional involved in your care has all the facts. Your previous history of health problems and care can help us to quickly identify which treatments are likely to be safe and effective for you and to reduce the likelihood of repeating tests that you may have had in the past.
This information may also be used for research and planning, which will help us provide better health care overall. In this situation, your personal details are removed so that you cannot be identified.
Individuals who carry out research must follow strict guidelines and maintain the confidentiality of the information they access. Information is only made available for research projects which have been approved by the Latrobe Regional Hospital Human Research and Ethics Committee.
How is my information protected and who in the hospital has access to it?
Whether you are a public or private patient, information about you is stored securely within the hospital.
Computer stored information (such as your name, address, date of birth, telephone number, pathology results and diagnosis) allows health care professionals involved in your care to access information more easily and quickly when it is needed.
Latrobe Regional Hospital maintains strict policies with respect to who is allowed access to your personal information. All staff employed by the hospital are bound by a strict code of conduct iin regard to maintaining the confidentiality of your information.
Apart from hospital staff, who might have access to information about me?
You and/or your carer will be asked to give permission before information about you is passed on to other services. You have the right to refuse, however, this may lead to some difficulties with your care after leaving the hospital. If you have any reservations or questions, please ask a member of your treating team.
There are a number of services outside the hospital that might be involved in your care once you leave the hospital. These services include your local doctor (also called your GP), community nursing services, your local council (which provides meals and home help) and possibly hostels, nursing homes and private service providers.
Before your discharge from hospital, staff will discuss your needs and arrange these services for you, in conjunction with your carer if applicable. Some information about you and your situation needs to be given to community agencies so they can work out your requirements and arrange for the services to start.
You will also be seeing your local doctor soon after leaving hospital, so the doctor needs to know the details about your diagnosis, treatment and medications. We send a letter to your local doctor after you leave hospital. This letter summarises your stay at the hospital, your medications and any special instructions your doctor needs to know. We may also send letters to your local doctor following visits to the Community Rehabilitation Centre. These letters may also be sent to the referring hospital or specialist, if appropriate.
Sometimes your local doctor will write or telephone Latrobe Regional Hospital for additional information about your treatment. In this situation, we routinely release information to the doctor you have specified as your local doctor. If you prefer this information not to be given to your local doctor, please advise your treating doctor at Latrobe Regional Hospital.
Do other hospitals and doctors have access to information about me?
If you are seen at a hospital other than Latrobe Regional Hospital their staff may contact us to obtain information about you so that you can be treated safely and effectively.
In some circumstances it may be necessary for another treating doctor to contact Latrobe Regional Hospital for information about care you have received.
Your written consent will be sought before the information is released.
What if I am unable to give consent for information about me being released?
If you are unable to give permission for information to be released, written permission will be obtained from your next of kin (spouse /partner, nearest relative over the age of 18), guardian, or person you have nominated to represent you. In an emergency, this may not be possible.
Who might contact me after I have left Latrobe Regional Hospital?
A member of the care team may contact you after you have left hospital to find out how you are getting on. This is part of providing quality health care.
What other people receive information about me?
In some circumstances the hospital is obliged by law to release information about you.
Examples of this include:
- presentation of your medical record as evidence in court when subpoenaed (in the case of legal action)
- reporting notifiable diseases to the Department of Human Services (Victoria) or the Victorian Cancer Registry as appropriate
How can I gain access to information about me?
If there is information in the record, which is not correct, or with which you disagree, you have the right to request that it be amended.
Requests for access to your medical record can be made in writing to:
The Freedom of Information Officer
Latrobe Regional Hospital
PO Box 424, Traralgon Vic 3844
A fee is charged for this service in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 1988.
Who do I contact for more information?
If you have any questions regarding what happens to information about you, please contact the Manager of the Health Information Unit at Latrobe Regional Hospital on 5173 8103.
Information Privacy for patients
Latrobe Regional Hospital is committed to protecting the privacy of patients, aged care residents and other clients. We are required by law to protect personal and confidential information such as information relating to your health and other personal details.
The following information reflects the requirements of the Health Privacy Principles as detailed in the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) and the Health Privacy Principles, the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) and Information Privacy Principles.
It outlines the collection, use and disclosure, quality, security and data retention, access and correction of personal and health information.
Collection of Information
We will only collect health and personal information that is necessary for us to assess and treat your health condition. We will always try to collect health and personal information in a fair, lawful and non-intrusive way.
Wherever possible, we will collect information directly from you rather than from third parties.
Use of your information
Generally, we collect and use health and personal information for provision of care and treatment to you for your health condition and for purposes directly related to this. For example, if you are admitted for inpatient medical treatment, your mental health file (if any) will be shared with the treating team and if you are admitted for inpatient mental health, your medical file (if any) will be shared with your treating team. We are required to inform you of the circumstances in which we might disclose information other than for this primary purpose.
Aside from where the law specifically allows us to use or disclose information, we will not use or disclose such information for unrelated purposes without your consent.
Our staff are not permitted to use or disclose information of a personal or health nature, except that is required, authorised or permitted under law.
We may disclose your health and personal information to:
- other health care providers, including your General Practitioner, for the purpose of providing further treatment to you
- a pastoral carer who may visit you, where you have provided details of your religion
- a representative of a veterans organisation where you are a veteran
- an agency for the purposes of determining your feedback and satisfactiion.
Disclosure for research purposes
We may disclose unidentifiable information about you for research purposes.
Disclosure for quality improvement purposes
We may disclose your health and personal information for internal quality improvement purposes and to external agencies for the purpose of accreditation of LRH.
Disclosure on Consumer Management Interface
If you are a registered mental health client, your health and personal information will be entered on the Consumer Management Interface (CMI), which is a state-wide data base accessible to authorised staff of designated Mental Health Services. There are strict guidelines for staff accessing CMI.
Disclosure to the Department of Health (Vic) and Department of Social Services (Commonwealth)
We are required to disclose information to the Department of Health and for aged residents to the Department of Social Services. Both departments are subject to privacy laws the same as or similar to the laws which apply to Latrobe Regional Hospital.
Disclosure under other laws
We also are required or permitted to disclose information under the Firearms Act, Road Safety Act, Marine Act, Public Health and Wellbeing Act, Cancer Act, Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, Commission for Children and Young Persons Act, Mental Health Act, Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, Coroners Act, Children, Youth and Families Act and the Health Services Act. We may be required to provide information to the police under a search warrant or to a court on receipt of a subpoena.
You are entitled to refuse certain disclosures
The information set out above is to inform you as how and to whom we may disclose information about you. Other than where we are required to disclose information you may indicate that you do not consent to such a disclosure.
You are required to complete the 'Consent/Refusal to the use and disclosure of information' for each admission. If you are an aged care resident, you are required to complete the 'Consent/Refusal to the use and disclosure of information' attached to the Resident’s Agreement.
We have a fundraising arm which might contact you for fundraising purposes or activities. You may receive information from the LRH Foundation unless you expressly refuse.
Data quality, security and retention
We take all reasonable steps to ensure all current information is accurate, complete and up to date and to protect your information from unauthorised access, improper use, disclosure, unlawful destruction or accidental loss.
Access, correction and provision of copies
Upon request and payment of a fee we will provide you access to information we hold about you, as set out in the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic). We can provide you with a copy or you can ask us to send a copy to another person or healthcare provider. You also have a right to request that we correct information about you that we hold. Application to obtain or correct information is via the Freedom of Information Officer.
We will cooperate where it is lawful and practicable and where it doesn’t jeopardise your care and treatment, to keep your admission private or to be known by an alias. This will not prevent us from disclosing the information we are required by law to disclose.
Transfer or Closure
If we are amalgamated or parts of our service transferred or closed, your health and personal information will be handled in accordance with the law.
How to contact us for privacy concerns or Freedom of Information requests
Latrobe Regional Hospital has a feedback/complaints process to address any patient concerns relating to the care and handling of your information.
Any complaints relating to breach of privacy are thoroughly investigated.
Please contact the Privacy Officer if you have a complaint regarding a possible breach of your privacy or the FOI Officer if you would like to lodge an application under the Freedom of Information Act or if you wish to correct your records.
Latrobe Regional Hospital
PO Box 424
Phone 5173 8501