Health and genetic information
Using and disclosing genetic information
The Privacy Act does not prevent a health service provider using or disclosing a patient's genetic information, if the patient has given informed consent.
Where a health service provider has not been able to obtain consent from the patient, the Privacy Act allows the use and disclosure of genetic information where:
- i. the health service provider reasonably believes that there is a serious threat to the life, health or safety of a genetic relative of the patient
- ii. the use or disclosure to the genetic relative is necessary to lessen or prevent that threat and
- iii. the health service provider has complied with the guidelines issued under section 95AA of the Privacy Act.
Collecting or using contact details of a patient's genetic relatives
Where a decision has been made to disclose genetic information, with or without the patient's consent, the collection or use of the contact details of the patient's genetic relatives would generally need the consent of the relative.
The Privacy Commissioner is satisfied that, in these circumstances, it is impractical to obtain consent for the collection of the genetic relative's contact details, and has issued a Public Interest Determination to allow this collection or use.
Other places to go....
- Information Sheet (Private Sector) 29 - Privacy issues relating to the use or disclosure of genetic information in a health context
- FAQs on health and genetic information
- Explanatory Statement - section 95AA Guidelines
- Privacy Commissioner's approval of the section 95AA Guidelines
- Public Interest Determination 11
- Determination 11A, which gives general effect to Public Interest Determination 11