The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has slammed draft legislation brought forward by the Federal Government, which will allow it the right to access individual patients' records.
This is 'Big Brother' at
Dr Rosanna Capolingua
The draft, which the AMA said had been released last Thursday
night before the Easter long weekend, would mean the government had the power to "require a document,
extract or copy containing health information (within the definition
of the Privacy ACT 1988) about an individual".
The legislation had its grounds in making it possible for the
government to conduct administrative checks, according to the
"It is remarkable that a government should take such a step as
to violate your personal medical record. This is 'Big Brother' at
its worst," the association's president, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said
in a statement.
"This is an act of bureaucratic voyeurism that strips patients
of all rights to privacy. It presses the face of government at the
keyhole of every surgery in the country. Doctors will be compelled
to hand over highly sensitive medical information to justify
Medicare claims potentially including a patient's intimate concerns
and examination findings, their test results, weight, sexual
health, infections ... nothing is protected.
"Worse still, under this legislation patients don't even have
the right to know that their records are being accessed. There is
no compulsion to even advise patients, let alone seek their
permission," Capolingua said.
"Government has no business accessing these records. This
information is between the doctor and the patient, and must remain
so," she concluded.
There has been a lot of attention on health record privacy in
recent times with the attempts to introduce national electronic health
records, as they would make private information more readily available.
The government is facing the need to pass new legislation to make
the introduction of an individual health identifier possible, which
the National e-health Transition Authority
believed would take until next year.
The office of Federal Minister for Health and Aging Nicola Roxon was
unable to provide comment in time for this article.