Purpose of this policy
The Sydney Cognitive Development Centre Pty Ltd (henceforth referred to as SCDC) collects, works with and retains its patient’s personal information. This information is important in the optimal provision of our services. However it is also important that the information is appropriately managed in accordance with law and ethical guidelines of the profession. This policy outlines how the Sydney Cognitive Development Centre Pty Ltd handles patient’s personal information, in accordance with Australian Privacy Principles. These privacy principles came into force on 12th March 2014, and are contained in schedule 1 of the Privacy Act 1988.
Relevant Laws and other Documents
Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988
Australian Psychological Society – Code of Ethics (2007)
What is personal information?
Personal information is any information which identifies you or could reasonably be used to identify you.
What personal information do we collect and why?
In order to provide optimal services SCDC will collect the following information from patients or referrers. As a base, the following information will likely be collected:
In addition, in the provision of services SCDC will in all likelihood collect the following personal information:
- Your name, address and date of birth.
- Your contact details.
- Current and past medical information.
- Your family medical history to the extent that it may inform current services.
- Your educational and occupational history.
All of the above material is used to inform accurate assessment, diagnosis and treatment plans for SCDC patients. Not having this information may increase the risk that the assessment, diagnosis and treatment plans subsequently arrived at or generated are sub-optimal.
- Responses and results from psychological tests and questionnaires (these may include teacher or observer ratings, self-ratings and parent ratings).
- Responses and results reasonably obtained as part of a neuropsychological assessment.
- This may be in a ‘pencil-and-paper’ format, or via a computer.
- Information pertaining to your response to treatment.
Information provided by third parties
We will collect information from you where it is reasonable and practical to do so. We may also need to collect information from others who have known you a long time (such as a spouse or parent) or from others involved in your care (such as your GP). We will always endeavour to keep clients reliably informed of the information collected and the source of that information, and where appropriate will seek and obtain written informed consent to contact and retrieve that information.
Use and disclosure of personal information
The SCDC will use and disclose personal information for the primary purpose of providing optimal services. This will primarily take the form of a report prepared by the clinician and sent to the referrer or referring agent, plus others involved in the patient’s care where applicable.
It is noted that in some circumstances Psychologists are required by law to disclose personal information without the consent of the client. Specifically, Psychologists may disclose personal information if a “permitted general situation” exists such as to “lessen or prevent a serious threat to the life, health or safety of any individual, or to public health or safety”. This threat does not need to be imminent.
There may be occasions when the SCDC discloses the personal information of a client where there is a serious threat to the life, health, or safety of an individual or the public, or on a rare occasion to assist in the location of a missing person.
Storage and security of personal information
All SCDC clinicians will take reasonable steps to protect the personal information of clients from misuse, interference or loss, and from unauthorised modification, access or disclosure.
Paper documents containing personal information listed above will be stored under lock. Electronic information containing personal information listed above will be stored and backed up securely, in accordance with the APS Code of Ethics (2007).
Can you access your personal information?
Clients have a right to access your personal information held by the SCDC. The SCDC may refuse the request for such information, or limit the information so provided, where it is legally entitled to do so. We will endeavour to provide reasons for refusal. For example, release of information may be denied or limited where such release may have an unreasonable impact on the privacy of others, may cause significant risk to other involved, or is considered frivolous or vexatious.
Research and personal information
The SCDC may engage in research evaluation of assessment and treatment to improve the quality of the service we provide. In such cases, personal information of clients will be used, however will be de-indentified in any datebases. In this context, the information will not be released to third parties, but will be retained within SCDC for the sole purpose of quality evaluation and improvement of services.
In addition, the SCDC may engage in academic or scientific research. In any such cases patients will be asked to sign a consent form allowing the use of their personal information for the purposes of a specific research project. Such research will be required to have obtained the prior approval of a Human Research Ethics Committee within the Department of Health or the relevant University. Again all information will be de-identified in a database. Consent can at any time be revoked once obtained, and this will not affect your care at the SCDC.
Psychologists duty of care
The director of the SCDC is guided by the Australian Psychological Society’s (APS’s) Code of Ethics (2007). Section A.4. of the Code relates to the appropriate collection of private information related to the provision of psychological services. Sections A.5. to A.7. of the Code relate to Confidentiality, the Release of Information to Clients, and the Collection of client information from associated parties. Section B.2. of the Code relates to appropriate record-keeping. The APS Code of Ethics (2007) can be obtained from the APS website (www.psychology.org.au).
It is noted that under section A.5.2.(c) of the Code that psychologists disclose confidential information obtained in the course of their provision of psychological services, “if there is an immediate and specified risk of harm to an identifiable person or persons that can be averted only by disclosing information” (p.15).
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is responsible for the registration of psychologists throughout Australia. Through AHPRA, and under National Law, there are requirements for registered health practitioners to make mandatory notifications to prevent the public from being placed at risk of harm. Revised guidelines took effect from 17th March 2014.
Changes to this policy.
We may from time to time make changes to this policy to reflect changes in the law or professional best-practice guidelines. All patients and referrers are encouraged to periodically review this policy to remain informed.
Clients have a right to make a complaint about the handing of their personal information. Complaints can be made to SCDC via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will endeavour to respond appropriately to reasonable complaints (i.e. not of a frivolous or vexation nature) within 30 days of the receipt of the email.