Doctors breaching patient privacy: Orwell redux

Graeme K Suthers, Elizabeth A McCusker and Samantha A Wake
Med J Aust 2011; 194 (12): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2011.tb03169.x
Published online: 20 June 2011

To the Editor: Handelsman and colleagues raise concerns1 about medical confidentiality with regard to legislation in New South Wales and a recent National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guideline. We wish to correct some of their statements related to the NHMRC guideline.

  • 1 SA Clinical Genetics Service, Adelaide, SA.
  • 2 NSW Huntington Disease Service, Sydney, NSW.
  • 3 Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, VIC.

Competing interests:

All authors were on the NHMRC committee that drafted the guidelines.2

  • 1. Handelsman DJ, Turner LA, Conway AJ. Doctors breaching patient privacy: Orwell redux. Med J Aust 2011; 194: 403-404. <MJA full text>
  • 2. National Health and Medical Research Council and Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Use and disclosure of genetic information to a patient’s genetic relatives under section 95AA of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). Guidelines for health practitioners in the private sector. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2009. (accessed May 2011).
  • 3. Suthers GK, McCusker EA, Wake SA. Alerting genetic relatives to a risk of serious inherited disease without a patient’s consent. Med J Aust 2011; 194: 385-386. <MJA full text>
  • 4. National Health and Medical Research Council. Medical genetic testing: information for health professionals. Canberra: NHMRC, 2010. (accessed May 2011).
  • 5. Australian Law Reform Commission and Australian Health Ethics Committee. Essentially yours: the protection of human genetic information in Australia. Sydney: ALRC, 2003. (Report No. 96.) (accessed May 2011).


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