Referring back to our article titled “Obtaining injured workers medical records – revoke permissions once your claim has finalised” whereby we highlighted the importance of revoking your (the injured worker) automatic consent for workcover and their insurers to access your medical information, once your claim has been finalised; thanks to our co-author Trinny, we stumbled upon WorkSafe Victoria’s rather disturbing published “guide” titled “Disclosing health information about WorkCover patients: A guide for healthcare professionals.
Disclosing health information about WorkCover patients – Workcover Vic
Medical practitioners have both an ethical and a legal duty to protect the confidentiality of the information acquired as a result of the management of patients (incl. injured workers). Confidentiality of a patient’s medical information is not breached if the patient has consented to the release of the information. The medical authority that appears on the Claim Form for workers compensation, which you (the injured worker) signs when lodging a workcover claim, basically automatically gives workcover and their agents access to your medical history/file.
What is perhaps disturbing is that Under the HRA (Health Record Act 2001 (Vic)) a healthcare professional may also disclose health information about a patient’s (injured worker) work related injury to the VWA (Victorian WorkCover Authority) or its Agents (= workcover insurers) without their consent in a number of circumstances relevant to the assessment and management of the patient’s WorkCover claim, including where:
A) the purpose of disclosing the health information is directly related to the primary purpose for which information was collected and the (injured) worker would reasonably expect the information to be disclosed for that purpose.
Healthcare professionals collect health information about a patient for the primary purpose of treating and managing their injury.
The key reasons for disclosing a patient’s (injured worker) health information to the VWA or its Agents are to:
- provide relevant medical or treatment information about the patient’s work related injury
- assist in the assessment and management of the patient’s WorkCover claim, and
- facilitate the patient’s rehabilitation and return to work.
The VWA considers these to be directly related to the primary purpose.
B) a law requires, authorises or permits the disclosure.
The disclosure of health information about a patient’s (injured worker) work related injury, to the VWA or its Agent, as part of the assessment and management of the patient’s WorkCover claim is necessary to achieve the objectives and functions of the Act, which include promoting the effective occupational rehabilitation of injured workers and their return to work while managing the compensation scheme effectively, efficiently and economically.
Healthcare professionals have a duty under their professional code of ethics to maintain the confidentiality of their professional–patient relationship.
- It is the VWA’s view that healthcare professionals are not in breach of the law if they provide health information about a patient to the VWA or its Agents as part of the assessment and management of the patient’s WorkCover claim in the circumstances outlined above.
- The VWA and its Agents seek only to collect health information about a patient that relates to the management of the patient’s work related injury.
Billing Review – beware
We also know for a fact that, for example, when WorkCover undertakes a (random) “billing review” of a healthcare professional, the healthcare professional (i.e. your psychologist, psychiatrist, surgeon etc) has to submit within a short timeframe, a (usually) random number (5-8) of injured workers’ files to workcover. Again, when this happens, the Authority clearly states on the “Billing review” that the healthcare professional does NOT need the injured worker’s consent to disclose this (at times very confidential) information!
So, chances are that your very confidential and private discussions with your treating psychologist for example, may, at some stage, be fully disclosed to workcover (all notes made by your treating psych). Now, how creepy is this, folks?
When we are at our most vulnerable, for example having much needed psych counseling, what we say to our treating psychologist is NOT confidential. You may be suffering from a major depression, be suicidal because of the after-effects of your workplace injury (incl. the way you may have or are being treated by workcover et al.; and you may also disclose for example that your marriage is affected (because of your depression, which is related to your injury)… and yep, there you go, if such private information comes in the hands of workcover et.al, chances are that they will be using “some things you may have said” AGAINST you; by taking it out of context. I.e blame your marriage breakdown for your depression….
Disclosing health information about WorkCover patients; A guide for healthcare professionals
Direct link to the document >>
[Dictated by WCV and manually transcribed and posted on behalf of workcovervictim]