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Health workers, for example a Doctor or a Nurse take confidentiality very seriously. Generally, they will talk to you before sharing info you have given them with other people or organisations.

But, if they think you or someone else is at risk of significant harm or have any concerns about your safety, welfare or wellbeing, they may have to share the information with other people without your permission.

 

What’s confidentiality?

Confidentiality is the protection of personal information.  It means that the information shared between you and your health worker is kept safe and is used to provide you with a health service. Health workers are careful to manage your health information so that your privacy is protected. But sometimes it needs to be shared outside the health service.

 

What does the law say about confidentiality?

Sometimes the law allows the health service to share information about you without you agreeing to it. Here’s a few examples of when this may happen: 

  • When State and Commonwealth government agencies require information for statutory reporting purposes. For example to report notifiable diseases such as chicken pox, whooping cough and STIs. Info is also shared to report births and deaths, and Medicare details
  • To help investigate a serious crime or provide evidence in court 
  • To conduct approved research projects that will benefit the public
  • To help other health services to prevent a serious threat to someone’s life, health or welfare

 

What is our duty of care to you?

There’s a few situations where the health worker might need to talk with other people.  For example if they’re worried that:

  • you might harm yourself or someone else
  • you’re being harmed or at risk of being harmed by somebody else, or any concerns about your safety, welfare or wellbeing

If these situations arise, health workers would have to make sure that you are safe.

 

How does NSW Health keep my personal health information confidential?

All NSW Health workers have a legal duty to protect the confidentiality of information about you. They’ve even signed a confidentiality agreement.
Only relevant information about you is shared within NSW Health or with other organisations involved in your care, safety, welfare or wellbeing. 

 

Can I make decisions and choices about my own health? 

The short answer is yes.  If the Doctor thinks you’re mature enough to fully understand your health problems and the treatment options you’re able to see a doctor or health worker confidentially and make decisions about your health. There’s no fixed age for this. But, it’s usually about 14 years of age. Often the doctor will suggest involving your parent or carer.

 

Will they tell my parents?

If there's something in your health record that you don’t want you parents to see, tell a health worker. Generally, if you’re 14 years or over, your parents cannot see your health records unless you agree to it.

For more info about confidentiality and your health rights:

 

*Acknowledgements: Text adapted from NSW Kids and Families ‘We keep it zipped’ resource.

 

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