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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    I am a carer for my husband who has Parkinson's disease.

    My husband allows me to come to his neurology appointments. As I am his carer, am I able under the privacy act to be given all info about his condition from his treating neurologist? If not, can I get a letter drawn up by our solicitor and signed by my husband to allow this access?
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    Thanks

    Bree Somer

    Social Worker

    Hi - I’m Bree Somer. I'm a qualified, registered Social Worker with extensive experience and specialised training. I provide individual counselling or coaching sessions to … View Profile

    I commend you on maintaing the role of carer for your husband. What a lucky man to have such a caring wife by his side. 

    In answer to your questions:

    You do generally require some form of legal authority to access another individual's personal information. If your husband currently retains cognitive capacity (i.e. he's of 'sound mind') he should be able to provide verbal/written consent with his current treating teams authorising you as his representative / carer and granting his permission for you to have access to his medical information. 

    Most states have their own legislation in relation to information privacy and some public health services fall under different legislation. You may wish to ask your husband's medical provider what their governing laws are in relation to information privacy. They should be able to tell you and provide information on their processes relating to accessing personal information.

    According to the Australian Freedom of Information website: you "require a signed letter of authorisation from you as well as proof of your identity and the identity of that other person. The letter must specifically authorise the department to either send copies of documents to that person or to allow that person to inspect copies of documents containing your personal information." (found at - https://www.ag.gov.au/RightsAndProtections/FOI/Pages/default.aspx)

    I imagine something along these lines would be required in order for you to access your husband's medical information.

    Here are some additional links to information which may be helpful in further answering your questions:

    I hope this goes some way to answering your questions.  It may also be of help to you to ask if there is any Social Work support available within your husband's medical / treatment team. They would be able to assist you further in relation to matters such as these.

    Wishing you and your husband well.

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