Use and disclosure of health information

When dealing with health information, your practice must decide if the intended use or disclosure is for a primary purpose (for collection) or a secondary purpose (directly related).

Health information is usually collected for providing healthcare services (the primary purpose). Your practice can use or disclose health information for the primary purpose.

If the patient consents, or would reasonably expect the use or disclosure, your practice can choose to use health information for another ‘secondary’ purpose. If a patient’s health information is de-identified, you and your practice need to decide whether it is appropriate to release this data at the request of an external organisation. The Guiding principles for managing requests for the secondary use of de-identified general practice data provides decision-making support and a checklist.

If a patient’s understanding and expectations are not clear, express consent should be obtained.

A practice relying on ‘reasonable expectations’ must consider these from the perspective of a patient with no specific medical knowledge. The patient’s age, cultural background and medical history should also be considered. Whether the intended use or disclosure was notified to the patient is also important.

Please read more on topics in this section via the links below.

Use for primary and secondary purposes

Read more on the ‘Use for primary and secondary purposes’ here

Use or disclosure in the practice setting

Read more on ‘Use or disclosure in the practice setting’ here

Use for business practices

Read more on ‘Use for business practices’ here

Use for training and education purposes

Read more on ‘Use for training and education purposes’ here

Limiting disclosure

Read more on ‘Limiting disclosure’ here

Subpoenas and disclosure required by law

Read more on ‘Subpoenas and disclosure required by law’ here

Information transferred overseas

Read more on ‘Information transferred overseas’ here

Privacy policies

Read more on ‘Privacy policies’ here

Patient access to medical records

Read more on ‘Patient access to medical records’ here

Correction of health information

Read more on ‘Correction of health information’ here

Other Toolkits

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Custodians of the land and sea in which we live and work, we recognise their continuing connection to land, sea and culture and pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.