Page 3524 - Week 11 - Thursday, 22 September 2005

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This bill also improves access by relatives to a deceased consumer’s health records in compassionate circumstances where this is not contrary to the expressed wished of the consumer. Under the current act, when a consumer has died, the only person who can access his or her health records is a legal representative. In practice, this means that if a person dies intestate, so that there is no administrator of the estate or executor of the will, no one, including a spouse, parent, or child can access the deceased person’s health records until a court appoints an administrator. This could take some time.

The bill proposes that the act be amended to allow an immediate family member access for compassionate reasons to personal health information of a deceased consumer in situations where such disclosure would have been expected by the consumer and are not contrary to any wishes expressed by the consumer. These changes are consistent with the current definitions contained in the act and the National Health Privacy Code and will not impinge upon the consumer’s right to confidential treatment of health information as provided for in section 17 (3) of the current act.

The bill also enhances the access to health information by carers of consumers in certain limited circumstances. As a result of complaints received, the Community and Health Services Complaints Commissioner has recommended for some time that the existing act be amended so that personal health information can be received from carers and that carers can have access to personal health information they need in order to carry out their functions as carers safely and effectively.

In order to allow carers to have access to the personal health information they need to be effective carers, it is proposed that the current act be amended to allow carers of consumers to be given personal health information about the consumer in limited defined circumstances. The proposed amendments in this bill will allow personal health information to be given to a carer of a consumer in the following circumstances: firstly, if the consumer is capable of giving consent and does so and, secondly, if the consumer is incapable of giving consent and there is an emergency, or the information is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious or imminent risk, or there is a need for the carer to know in order to carry out their functions safely and effectively, or for compassionate reasons or where the person given the information is the legal guardian.

Finally, the proposed amendment to principle 10 to allow for the disclosure of identifiable data for research purposes in controlled circumstances is consistent with the model provisions in the National Health Privacy Code as well as consistent with current best practice. The proposed amendment to the bill has been drawn directly from similar provisions contained in the New South Wales and Victorian health records acts. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth) adjourned to the next sitting.

Dangerous Substances (Asbestos) Amendment Bill 2005 (No 2)

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

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