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Monday, 23 November 2009
Page: 8597


Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (6:18 PM) —I move Family First amendment on sheet 5975:

(1)   Schedule 1, item 2, page 8 (lines 13 to 15), omit subsection 129AAG(7), substitute:

(7)   Where a document has been produced to an employee of Medicare Australia who is a medical practitioner, this section does not authorise an employee who is not a medical practitioner to exercise powers under subsection (2) in relation to the document.

This amendment is intended to protect the handling of a patient’s medical records. At the moment, documents containing patient clinical details that are provided to the medical practitioner in Medicare Australia can be handled by non-medical employees. Clause 129AAG(7) permits an administrative officer to inspect those documents and to make and retain copies of these confidential patient records. My amendment would ensure that, where a document containing clinical details is provided to a medical practitioner who is an employee of Medicare Australia, only a medical practitioner in Medicare Australia could handle that clinical information.

The government will probably say, ‘This stifles the process a bit from here,’ but this requirement that I am putting forward is the same requirement that the parliament imposed for the handling in Medicare Australia of pathology records that contain clinical details relating to a patient under section 23DKA(7)(b) of the Health Insurance Act 1973. So maybe the advisers can have a look at that one. For the same reasons, the same principle should be applied to these other records—the patient’s private clinical records. This protects patient privacy, and the same requirement should be in place in relation to the handling of documents or extracts of documents containing details relating to an individual. I move this amendment so that other senators can think hard about the principle this parliament has already imposed for the handling of patients’ pathology records that contain clinical details. I urge senators to support this amendment.