Set the record straight on medical indemnity!
Published 13 May 2016
Each month we will be ‘setting the record straight’ by highlighting some facts about My Health Record, so you can be confident when dealing with your patients. This month we set the record straight on whether providers are obligated to upload documents to the My Health Record system, some of the restrictions on third parties accessing My Health Records, and how the information in the My Health Record system can be used for medical indemnity purposes.
Q: Am I under an obligation to upload documents to the My Health Record system?
Healthcare providers do not have to upload all information on an individual to the person’s My Health Record.
Healthcare providers retain the discretion to determine what should be uploaded to an individual’s My Health Record. If you are unsure whether to upload certain information to the individual’s record – for example, a diagnosis – you should discuss whether or not to upload with the individual. If you consider that the information should not be uploaded, or the individual states that they do not want the information uploaded, do not upload.
There is nothing in the My Health Records Act that obliges uploading or that affects providers’ indemnity cover if they do not upload information to an individual’s My Health Record.
Q: If I upload documents to the My Health Record system, do I still need to keep my own records?
The My Health Records Act does not change healthcare providers’ existing duty of care, or their professional obligation to keep their own accurate and up-to-date records.
Q: Are My Health Records the only records I need to consider in providing healthcare?
The My Health Record is not designed to be a comprehensive ‘single source of truth’. Nor is it designed to replace a healthcare provider’s own records and information.
Instead, the My Health Record system is designed to provide a useful additional source of information. A treating healthcare provider should always combine the information in the My Health Record system with their own observations of the individual.
Q: Can I use the information in an individual’s My Health Record in relation to my medical indemnity cover?
Healthcare providers can generally only collect, use and disclose health information in an individual’s My Health Record when they are providing healthcare to the individual. However, the My Health Records Act 2012 (Act) also allows information in My Health Records to be used for a limited range of other uses, similar to the Privacy Act. One of those permitted “other uses” relates to indemnity cover. Under section 68 of the Act, registered healthcare provider organisations are authorised to access and use health information in an individual’s My Health Record (but not an individual’s personal health notes) for purposes relating to the provision of indemnity cover for the healthcare provider.
In summary, section 68 allows healthcare provider organisations to access information in an individual’s My Health Record as part of defending medical negligence claims. Section 68 recognises that health information in the My Health Record system is not directly under the control of healthcare providers (unlike local clinical information systems owned and operated by providers), but also recognises that healthcare providers should be able to access the information where necessary to defend claims.
Section 68 does not allow an individual’s personal health insurance company to access information in the My Health Record system although an individual is able to permit such access under section 66 (collection, use and disclosure with an individual’s consent), if they wish.