Does an individual always have to give their name when seeking a service from a health service provider?
National Privacy Principle 8 (NPP 8) requires that a health service provider give an individual the option of remaining anonymous whenever this is lawful and practicable. Sometimes individuals may only wish to use a health service if they do not have to reveal their identity. For example, this may happen with counselling services for domestic violence or with health services in relation to sexual health and drug use. In some circumstances, an alias may be appropriate for cultural reasons, such as with some indigenous communities.
It will be unlawful to provide a service anonymously, where, for instance, State and Territory public health laws require identifying information about an individual with a notifiable disease or when an individual is required to present their Medicare cards to have a prescription filled by a chemist.
It will be impracticable for a provider to allow an individual to remain anonymous when identification is necessary for the provision of a health service, as with many pathology services. Medico-legal factors or the need to provide follow-up care may also require the identification of the individual. For more information on NPP 8, see Guidelines on Privacy in the Private Health Sector.