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Disclosing health information about WorkCover patients – beware

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.

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revoke-permission-workcover boss-not-welcome-medical-appointment

Employers incl RTW Coordinators are not allowed to attend doctors appointments

aworkcovervictimsdiary received a shocking email from an injured worker last night, whose employer (a large public hospital) insisted that the injured worker’s “return to work coordinator” be allowed to attend the injured worker’s medical appointment with his specialist orthopedic surgeon, in order “to clarify” the injured worker’s “current fitness for work” status with the surgeon!

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boss-not-welcome-medical-appointment

Medical assessments and bosses – injured workers rights

Earlier today, Monty posted a comment asking if his employer can obtain his full doctors reports from IME or from all the independent doctors he has visited in past months.They apparently told him that they got all the reports. Monty was thinking about privacy laws and acts… and so are we! So we went on a trolling spree and found some answers.

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Rob-thomson-article

NSW Gov Freedom of information charges extraordinary

The NSW Government has been accused of trying to silence the Opposition by charging large fees for freedom of information requests, reports ABC News.

NSW Govt FOI charges ‘extraordinary’

When Labor Upper House MP Walt Secord sought documents about the decision to downsize Grafton jail he was told it would cost $1000.

Corrective Services then told the MP that collating the documents would take more than 34 hours.

Mr Secord said the cost and timeframe were “extraordinary” and designed to “bankrupt the Opposition”.

“This is simply a tactic to stop their release,” he said.

“The 108 people who lost their jobs at Grafton jail have a right to know what happened and why the decision was made and who was responsible.”

Mr Secord says before the election the Coalition promised to do away with freedom of information charges and adopt a principle of pro-active disclosure.

A spokesman for Premier O’Farrell said the Government is providing the public with more information than any other in the state’s history.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-08/foi-fees-questioned/4184920

 

Thank you @grathom for sourcing and kindly sharing this article with us 🙂

 

Freedom of information: FOI Act or ACA – an antagonising letter from Xchanging

A few days ago I received an extremely antagonising letter from Xchanging regarding a request I had made for a copy of a medical report.

I mean considering that I have been dealing with Xchanging and the same morons for over seven (7) years, and frequently request copies of my medical documents under the Freedom of Information Act (dealing with this very same person), come on, mate!

As you can see, the costly (hey, here goes another $.55 down the drain) letter asks me whether I’d like my request for the information ‘considered’ under the Freedom of Information Act or under the Accident Compensation Act (ACA). But the letter goes on to state that Xchanging has anyway started processing my request under the ACA. WTF?!

 

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The difference between the FOI and the ACA (according to Xchanging)

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Related posts

Obtaining a copy of your psychiatry IME report

Requesting copies of your documents under the Freedom of Information Act

 

Definitely caused me to become hostile!
psychopaths

Obtaining a copy of your Psychiatry IME report

My workcover case manager refuses to provide me with a copy of a psychiatric independent assessment (IME). She states that it is ‘their policy not to release psychiatric IME’s as the content of the report may be too sensitive“. Yeah, right… How am I supposed to know if I agree with the contents of the IME report or whether I’d like to appeal some decisions?

I would have thought that the content of reports of the physical assessments conducted by the so called independent medical examiners may be far more upsetting and sensitive! (refer to the earmarks of medical whores’ reports)

Workers reasonably expect access to their claim file documents under the Accident Compensation Act (ACA) or Freedom of Information Act (FoI) but both the ACA and FoI Act set out a number of exemptions by which access to information may be denied.

Access to your workcover information

According to the Online Claims Manual (section 3: “Access to information)

These guidelines have been developed to help agents in the processing of requests made by workers for information in relation to their claim under the Accident Compensation Act 1985 (ACA) or the Freedom of Information Act 1982(FoI Act).

WorkSafe is subject to the FoI Act but agents are not. However, under these guidelines workers may access information in relation to their claim held by agents in accordance with the FoI Act.

A worker can choose to seek access to their own claim file information and documents under either the ACA or the FoI Act. Not all information requested is available automatically. Both Acts provide for WorkSafe or an agent to refuse access to certain documents or information. These documents or information are often called ‘exempt’ documents or information.

The rules and principles of the ACA and FoI are substantially similar but there are some differences between the two regarding processing timeframes and review rights.

Accident Compensation Act

The ACA gives workers and their authorised representatives the right to access information in relation to their own claim, other than exempt information. The ACA does not give third parties a right to access information.

Freedom of Information Act

The FoI Act gives any member of the public the right to:

  • Access documents about their personal affairs and the activities of government agencies, such as WorkSafe

and

  • Request that correct or misleading information held by an agency about them be amended.

Making a request for information

A request must clearly describe the documents a worker is requesting access. For sample letters, click here.

You may want to add to the sample letter(s) the following sentence: “If you deny any or this entire request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of appeal procedures available to me under the law.”

Exemptions (see online Claims Manual for more info)

  • internal working documents
  • the public interest ‘test’
  • law enforcement documents
  • legal professional privilege
  • personal affairs
  • privacy laws
  • serious threat to life or health
  • information provided in confidence
  • information requested in previous 12 months (ACA)

Whilst workcover insurance companies, in my experience, do not have a problem providing the injured worker with copies of relevant documents under the FoI Act, such as copies of independent medical examinations (physical), copies of your own specialist’s reports and letters etc, they always REFUSE to provide me with a copy of a psychiatric independent medical examination.

When digging deeper the case manager tells me that the IME psychiatry contains “sensitive” information which may be a threat to my life or health and which – in my case – has never been the case, on the contrary! The psychiatry IME reports I have received over the years have always been “in my favour” and have always been much less “painful” to read than the slander of the physical whores’ reports.

The the case manager tells me that “it is the workcover insurance policy” not (never) to release psychiatric IME reports to injured workers under the FoI Act. Now, when you have a read of the Online claim’s manual ( the section about Access of information), which by the way is written by WorkSafe as a guide for their Insurance Agents – it clearly spells out that information cannot be released IF it poses a “serious threat to life or health”, right?.

Moreover, the guide also clearly states that the Agent needs to send the requested report to your nominated treater to discuss the report and then he/she can decide whether or not to give you a copy of the report or not. Well, my case manager NEVER asks me where I’d like the report to be sent to! On one occasion she ‘mistakenly’ sent it to an old GP who I haven’t seen since 2006! (And who is NOT my GP anymore). In the end, after lots of delay and unpleasant discussions, she eventually sent the report to my psychologist, who then – of course- gave me a copy.

So,basically if your case manager refuses to release you a copy of your Psychiatry IME report(s), make her/his life difficult by requesting s/he forwards you a copy of the relevant policy and the specific details and reasons of the refusal (on what medical grounds) AND ask her/him to send the report(s) to your treating GP, psychologist, other carer (of your choice) AND/OR your solicitor! GOTCHA!

You can also request your case manager to send the report to your solicitor!

This is just plain ridiculous anyway, given that those reports DO NOT pose a threat to my life or health! And by the way, how come, an uneducated, non-medically trained case manager can make this decision for you?

The other thing that pisses me off royally is that the workcover insurance company keeps on sending all my (very personal) IME reports (whether physical or psychiatric) to my PREVIOUS employer, hey I was sacked about 2 years ago! Why is it necessary for those very personal documents to go to your previous employer????

Serious threat to life or health (as per the online claims manual)

Special requirements must be satisfied before a decision is made to refuse access to documents containing health information about a person on the basis that disclosure would pose a serious threat to the life of health of that or any other person.In some cases the agent can refuse to give a worker access to the worker’s health information. Health information is defined very broadly and includes any personal information in the provision of health services, as follows:·      physical·      mental·      psychological·      genetic information and·      it must identify an individual or·         it must be reasonable easy to identify an individual through the information.
When access should be denied The agent must not give a worker access to health information they hold about them if:·      they believe on reasonable grounds that giving access would pose a serious threat to this or her life of health or life of any other personor·      the health information has been provided in confidence by a person other than the individual or a health service provider (eg a relative, friend, employer) with a request that the information not be communicated to the individual.If in doubt whether this exemption applies, the agent should check with the author of the document and/or refer the documents to a Medical Advisor.
Review by the Health Services Commissioner If an agent decides to apply this exemption it must give reasons for refusing access and advise the worker of his or her right to seek a review of the decision by the Health Services Commissioner.
Reasonable grounds The agent needs to consider if they have reasonable grounds to believe that release of the document sought would pose a serious threat to the life or health of the person seeking access to it, for example:·      is the person suicidal?·      is the person psychotic?·      is the person severely depressed?·      does the person have any other mental condition? There must be a real and distinct belief based on proper evidence and reasoning that the release of the health information would pose a serious threat to the worker. If there is no evidence of past or present mental or psychiatric condition then it will be unlikely that a serious threat exists.There is no obligation on the agent to make inquiries about the individual’s mental or physical health or to ensure that they are not suffering from a particular condition. Such an inquiry would be likely to be unnecessarily intrusive.
Procedure When this exemption applies then the procedure set out in the Health Records Act 2001 is to be followed:If the agent’s preliminary assessment finds releasing one or more documents containing health information may pose a serious threat to the life or health of the worker, the health information should be referred to the Medical Advisor. To assist the Medical Advisor to make the final decision on whether releasing the health information is likely to represent a serious threat, the agent must attach a red tag/flag to each document or parts of documents which may be exempt under this exemption and must yellow highlight the documents or parts of documents which are exempt on other grounds.·      If the Medical Advisor decides there is a serious threat, the agent must write to the worker asking them to nominate a health practitioner who has agreed to act as a nominated health practitioner and who understands the functions of that role under the HEALTH RECORDS ACT 2001 , with whom the Medical Advisor will discuss the information. At this stage any other non-exempt documents are to be released to the worker with the decision letter.·      After the Medical Advisor and the worker’s nominated health practitioner have discussed the health information, the agent must then send this information only to the agreed nominated health practitioner.·         The worker’s agreed nominated health practitioner must then decide what, if any, information will be released to the worker and in what form.
Worker’s nomination of health practitioner The nominated health practitioner must be qualified to understand and explain the health information to the worker, eg health information relating to a psychological condition should not be sent to a physiotherapist.
What if a Medical Advisor is not available? Medical Advisors are available at all agents to receive a referral of relevant documents for decision under this provision.In circumstances where a Medical Advisor is not available the agent may contact the Clinical Panel on 03 9641 1070 to make appropriate arrangements.

 

You may also be interested in “rights of patients” (and relevant laws”) which you can find in the Victorian legal handbook online.

Related post: Obtaining copies of your workcover documents under the Freedom of Information Act