Privacy and confidentiality

You may be worried about access to and the use of information about you held by this Health Centre. In recognition of this, the following material has been produced for your reassurance and information.

The Health Centre follows the New Zealand Health Information Privacy Code. You can read the full text of this at the Privacy Commissioner website or request to see our copy.

All Health Centre Staff and visiting staff and trainees are required to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Clinical information is not available to academic staff or other University of Canterbury staff. The only exception is that information contained in medical certificates or Special Consideration Applications provided to other University of Canterbury staff with your consent.

Medical information about you is now kept on computer using the ‘Medtech’ system, although some of you may have old ‘hard’ notes as well. Only staff of this clinic has access to the computer information.

Access

Computer Medical Notes

These can be accessed by all Health Centre staff, however:

  • There is a facility within our computer system for making particular consultation notes only accessible to specified providers should you wish us to do this on any occasion
  • No member of the staff is permitted to browse without proper reason
  • All staff and trainees and also IT support staff sign confidentiality agreements.

Counselling notes

Most of the counselling staff does not currently record their notes within the ‘medtech’ system. Their notes are kept on hard file in locked filing cabinets. For those who record their notes in ‘Medtech’ the same rules apply as to medical records.

Access to your own notes

You are welcome to peruse or have copies of your own notes. We usually require proof of identity for this, and also usually enable this in the presence of a Doctor/counsellor in case there are items that require clarification or interpretation.

If you believe there are any incorrect entries we are happy to annotate your file to this effect. We do not, however, delete any data in this circumstance except in the case of there being some other person’s medical information wrongly entered in your file.

Disposal and retention of notes

Redundant Health Information eg copies of letters or results which have been filed electronically are shredded by the University confidential document disposal contractors.

Medical notes

Medical notes which exist as hard files are retained in the Health Centre for about 4 years and then transferred to the locked, secure facility on campus to which only we have access. We are required to keep this material for 10 years from the date of last data entry.

Computerised clinical files are ‘inactivated’ when a student advises they have left our care, or if it becomes apparent that they will not be attending us again due to leaving university, going overseas etc, but remain retrievable within the system should they be required.

Counselling notes

When a counsellor leaves, his/her files are transferred to a locked and secure storage facility on campus. If you return for further counselling you will be asked if you wish the new counsellor to retrieve your file. When a student leaves the University his/her counselling notes are transferred to the same secure storage as medical files. Only Health Centre staff has access to this area.

Transfer of notes

When you leave the university Health Centre we are happy to transfer your medical file to your next GP. We do not normally include your counselling files unless specifically requested. We do not transfer any notes to other parties without your consent unless there is a legal requirement to do so eg to the coroner after a suicide.

Communication

We utilise the following means of communication: letters, text, cell phone and landline calls and email. In all cases we strive to be discreet if messages are left.

Privacy and sharing of your Health Information

This practice is bound by the 'Health Information Privacy Code'. We are required to inform you what happens to the information we collect on you. We have a copy of the Code if you would like to see it. You can also read it on the Privacy Commissioner's website.

You may request to see and correct any information we hold about you.

All the information you impart is strictly confidential to the Practice.

There are some instances when information we have collected about you will be shared with others:

  • In the interests of quality medical care, (see examples below). This includes the rare instances where there is perceived to be serious risk to the life or health of you or others. It also includes using information in practice activities eg screening, preventive health reminder systems etc
  • For you to obtain financial benefits under the health and social welfare systems
  • For the practice to participate in contracts relating to pharmaceutical and laboratory budget holding with an IPA or PHO.

When we share information you should be aware of:

When we share information such as your name, date of birth, date of contact with the practice etc. it may be given to:

  • Ministry of Health’s funding agency (name subject to change)
  • Accident Compensation – see below also
  • An IPA, independent practitioners association or a PHO, Primary Health Organisation – see below also
  • Your pharmacy in your prescription and then on to Ministry of Health

In addition to the above information, RELEVANT Medical Information may be given to:

  • Emergency departments or after hour's clinics, where authorised personnel may access relevant medical information that we hold through the (developing) 'shared record'.
  • ACC with your consent, (when you sign an M45, you consent to the release of information to ACC)
  • Ministry of Health Funding agency when you apply for a high user card, or the practice makes a maternity benefit claim on your behalf, (pregnancy number and date of last period for maternity claims) or a GMS claim
  • Income Support when you apply for a Disability Allowance, Sickness Benefit
  • Medical Laboratories when you are referred for tests (to aid interpretation of results)
  • Community/Public Health in instances of Notifiable Diseases
  • Smear test results, previous smear history to the Cervical Screening Register via the Laboratory with your consent
  • The police on request, only in very limited circumstances covered in detail under the Health Information Privacy Code
  • The coroner in some cases of death
  • The Ministry of Health and/or local practitioners in cases where people are trying to obtain prescription drugs for illegal purposes
  • Intensive Medicines Monitoring Program for patients on medicines in this program
  • Medicines Adverse Reactions Committee for patients with a significant drug reaction

Detailed information is often given to:

  • Any specialist or other health care service to which you are referred with your consent
  • Insurance Companies to ascertain Medical, Life or Disability Cover for you - you consent to this when you sign the application for the policy.

Please read our Health Centre Privacy Statement for more information. If you have any concerns or queries about the above, please speak to your Doctor or the Medical Director or Manager.