Fact sheetWorking with consumers

Published on 29 Mar 2021

3. Escalating adverse information and issues

Under prescribed circumstances, you may be required to disclose information provided by patients and/or carers in the context of a discussion, which would otherwise be confidential.

For example, if a participant advised that they were the victim of a criminal act while receiving health services, NSW Health policy compels staff to disclose information.

We are compelled to report information if a consumer shared details of serious misconduct or negligence by a staff member or if they report matters of child protection.

While these circumstances are extremely rare, these provisions exist to ensure that all unsatisfactory conduct within the NSW health system receives proper attention. The Participant Information Sheet that is provided to all patients and/or carers clearly conveys this information.

If, after conducting a discussion, you are unsure as to whether information provided in the discussion should be disclosed, seek advice from your manager.

The identity of the participant, and the facility involved must remain confidential until a decision is reached about disclosure based on the nature of the information supplied.

All staff have a responsibility to be aware of relevant policy directives, manuals and guidelines governing situations which may arise in a focus group discussion.

These are available on the NSW Ministry of Health site and are accessible using this link. http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/policies/pages/default.aspx

The following is a step-by-step guide that may support you if you decide that the information should be disclosed.

  1. Undertake due diligence confirming the time and place, etc, with the person.
  2. With the person’s consent enter the incident into the Incident Management System (IMS).
  3. With the person’s consent notify the lead clinician/manager of the service or location within which the incident is connected.
  4. If the person also wishes to make a complaint, check the relevant LHD or SHN complaints processes. Then tell the person that they can contact the manager for the service or the Clinical Governance Unit of their LHD or SHN in which they experienced the problems. Provide the person with the relevant contact details.
  5. Provide the person with the details of the Health Care Complaints Commission, the NSW Ombudsman and the Information and Privacy Commission (see Key contacts for escalations and management of complaints).
  6. Take a personal note or record of the action that you have taken and confirm this with your manager.
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