Privacy and Confidentiality


This is an extremely important code of ethical behaviour and must be maintained at all times by all staff.

The legal requirements of confidentiality extends from the Practice Principal/s to all Clinicians and staff.

  • VERBAL BREACH of confidence – Discussion of patient’s conditions with staff members, families, friends and others.
  • VISUAL BREACH of confidence – Leaving patient’s records in full view of any other party.
  • AUDITORY BREACH of confidence – Discussing patient matters (in hearing range of other’s nearby).

The Privacy Act

The Privacy Amendment (Sector) Act 2000 extends the operation of the Privacy Act 1988 to cover the private health sector throughout Australia.

The Privacy Act requires our practice to abide by the 13 Australian Privacy Principles (APPs):

  • App I —open and transparent management of personal information App 2 — anonymity and pseudonymity.
  • App 3 _collection of solicited personal information
  • APP 4 —dealing with unsolicited personal information
  • APP 5 – notification of the collection of personal information
  • APP 6 — use and disclosure of personal information direct marketing
  • App 8 —cross-border disclosures
  • APP 9 _adoption, use or disclosure of government related identifiers
  • App 10 —quality of personal information
  • APP Il — security of personal information
  • APP 12 — access to personal information
  • APP 13 -correction of personal information


Information regarding complying with the legislation is available at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

The RACGP’s Privacy and managing health information in general practice at www.racgaggau!yourpractice/ehealth/protecting-information/privacy.

Privacy Policies for GPs (OAIC August 2015)

Children and Parental Responsibility


Each parent has parental responsibility for each of their children until each child reaches 18 years of age. Parental responsibility is not affected by changes in the parents’ relationship such as separation or divorce or remarriage.

Courts may make orders about parental responsibilities only if the parents cannot agree about the arrangements for their child or children, these are called parenting orders. Courts may also approve and make consent orders to reflect an agreement reached between parents.

A parenting order may deal with one or more of the following:

  • who the children will live with
  • how much time the children will spend with each parent and with other people, such as grandparents
  • the allocation of parental responsibility
  • how the children will communicate with a parent they do not live with, or other people, and
  • any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the children.

A parenting order for a child 16 years and over does not take precedence over the young person’s right to confidentiality and privacy.


On registration of a patient under the age of 18, enquiries should be made as to whether there is a parenting order in place, or any other court orders such as a personal violence order.

If the advice received is that there is an order in place, a copy of the order should be obtained and placed on the patient’s file.

The status of orders made should be regularly reviewed and patient files updated to reflect the changes that may be made.

Managing patient with Difficult Behaviour


Patient’s may display difficult behaviour when they are unwell, experiencing pain or becoming impatient.

However, the practice has a zero tolerance for abusive and/or threatening behaviour against staff. This includes shouting, swearing, aggressive actions, threats, inappropriate gestures and name calling.


When dealing with difficult patients, consider:

  • Remaining calm
  • Listen
  • Don’t take it personally
  • Use eye contact
  • Assure the patient you are there to assist them
  • Try to connect with the patient
  • Don’t accept abuse
  • Move the patient away from the public area
  • Alert the Practice Manager or a doctor for assistance if required

Abusers will be required to leave the practice and their care will be transferred to another practice.

Refusal to leave will result in the police being called.

Helpful resources:

  • General practice – A safe place: A guide for the prevention and management of patient-initiated violence (RACGP, April 2016)
  • PracticeHub Resources/Work Health and Safety: SIGNAGE Zero Tolerance Policy