If an individual gives consent to medical treatment does this automatically imply consent to further use of their health information by the treating health service provider?
No, these are two distinct activities. However, in most instances, the discussions that lead an individual to decide about whether to give or withhold consent to the provision of treatment and to the handling of their health information will occur concurrently. For more information about what is ï¿½health informationï¿½, see section 6 of the Privacy Act 1988.
If a health service provider is in doubt about whether an individual is giving consent to the handling of their health information, the provider could seek the individualï¿½s express consent. This can be sought either orally or in writing, or in any other form where the consent is clearly communicated.
In many instances, a health service provider could conclude from the conduct of an individual that he or she is giving implied consent to the handling of their health information. For example when an individual gives a specimen to a medical practitioner for a pathology test, the practitioner could usually conclude that the individual has given implied consent to the disclosure of necessary health information (by the practitioner to the pathologist) for this purpose. For more information on consent to the handling of health information, see the Guidelines to Privacy in the Private Health Sector.