Although privacy is important for all health information, this is especially so for medical information about fertility.
To help meet our obligations under New Zealand and Malaysian regulation, we have developed a variety of policies.
We only collect information that is relevant to the services we provide you. If we want extra information, for instance from a previous fertility provider, your GP, or another health service, then we will get your permission first. If there is any information we are obliged by law to obtain, we will tell you first.
We will ask your permission before we pass on information we hold about you. In our patient registration form we ask you whether you want us to send copies of letters to your referring doctor and/or GP. Our registration form also covers sharing information between partners.
Our staff, contractors and auditors sign an agreement not to disclose any information they may come across and not to mention anybody they might see in the clinic.
We may need to give some limited information when we arrange other medical services, such as blood tests or ultrasound scans. For instance, a request for a hormone test may state something like ‘Ectopic pregnancy’ so the laboratory makes the right interpretation of the result.
We may provide your name in relation to billing or debt recovery, but we would not disclose what the debt was related to.
If we are required under government regulations to provide non-identifying information about any treatments, we will mention this in our consent forms for the relevant treatments. None of this information is identifiable, and each user has a strict code of practice for using the information we give them.
Ownership, correction and copying your medical information
You own your medical information and can ask to see it and correct it at anytime. We set a charge to copy your medical records, but we can usually do this for free if you give us a reasonable amount of time.
There are some circumstances under which a health provider can restrict access to medical records, and we would explain this if it arose.
Although you own your medical information, we own our copy of it (e.g. the paper or computer records), and can keep that information.
Medical records about fertility are more complex than most health records because they concern a husband and wife. Generally if a relationship breaks down, then a person can only access that portion of their fertility records that relates to them. For instance, a woman could not access her former husband’s semen analyses without his written consent.
We have put in a lot of steps to try to keep your medical information secure and intact, ranging from computer firewalls to checking letters before they go into envelopes, and we regularly audit our systems. However, we know that lapses can occasionally happen despite best intents and efforts. If you receive any information that is not yours, please notify us immediately. We will try to find the root cause of any breach to prevent it happening again.
Contact in the future
Our consent forms for treatment ask whether we can contact you in the future to see if you are interested in taking part in research. About 80% of people agree to this, for which we are very thankful. This has been extremely valuable for following up the health of children born after fertility treatment. If you do not agree to follow-up for research, we would only contact you if it was about a matter which could affect your or your children’s heath or wellbeing.
Questions and concerns
If you have any questions, please ask. Fertility Associates has a Privacy Officer who can help with any concerns you might have. Our contact information is available on the Contact Us page here.