Communication with Patients
Staff are mindful that even if patients have provided electronic contact details they may not be proficient in communicating via electronic means and patient choice should be obtained before using electronic communication.
Patients can obtain advice or information related to their care or appointment reminders by electronic means, where the doctor determines that a face-to-face consultation is unnecessary. Electronic communication includes: email, fax, and SMS.
Practice staff and doctors determine how they communicate electronically with patients, both receiving and sending messages. All significant electronic contact with patients is recorded in the patient health records.
Patients are informed of any costs incurred prior to electronic consultations.
Patients are advised in the Practice Information sheet that they can request our written policy on receiving and returning electronic communication.
Communication with patients via electronic means (e.g. email and Fax) is conducted with appropriate regard to the privacy Laws relating to health information and confidentiality of the patients’ health information.
No patient is refused access clinical assessment or medical treatment on the basis of gender, race, disability, Aboriginality, age, religion, ethnicity, beliefs, sexual preference or medical condition. Provisions are implemented to ensure patients with a disability can access our services.
The practice identifies important/significant cultural groups within our practice including non English speaking background patients, religious groups and those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background. We endeavour to continue to develop any strategies required to meet their needs.
The practice provides respectful care at all times and is mindful of patient's personal dignity. We have a plan in place to respectfully manage patients in distress
Visual and auditory privacy for patients is provided in the waiting room and during the consultation. The waiting room provides soft music or TV to assist patient auditory privacy. Each doctor’s consulting room and the treatment room has a curtain around the examination couch for patient privacy and the door is closed for each consultation.
Patient privacy and confidentiality is assured for consultations and in medical and accounts records, appointments, telephone calls and electronic media including computer information. Doctors and staff do not leave patient information in any format in areas of the Practice or surrounds for unauthorised access by the public. Staff members sign a privacy agreement upon acceptance of employment and risk immediate dismissal should a breach of this agreement occur. Information no longer required that contains any reference to patients, including diagnosis reports, specialist’s letters, accounts etc. is securely disposed of via shredding.
Patients have a right to access their personal health information and may request to view their record or obtain a copy.
Patients have the right to refuse any treatment, advice or procedure. Our doctors discuss all aspects of treatment and will offer alternatives should a patient seek another medical opinion.
For ongoing management of patients, should they leave the area, our doctors will ask for the forwarding doctor’s or Practice address.
A copy of the patient’s medical record or the health summary will be sent directly to the new location via secure a secure method.
This Practice acknowledges a patient’s right to complain. We provide mechanisms to ensure that this feedback in addition to positive comments and suggestions are freely received and implemented where possible. Please email the practice manger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Patients are provided with sufficient information about the purpose, importance, benefits, risks and possible costs associated with proposed investigations, referrals or treatments to enable patients to make informed decisions about their health.
Patients are provided with adequate information about our practice to facilitate access to care including our arrangements for care outside the normal opening hours .
This Practice participates in the RACGP Training Program and regularly has registrars on site. Patients are advised of this with a notice in the waiting room. If undergraduate students are on practice placement here and observe doctors’ consultations, then the patient is asked for his/her consent. Each patient is given a written note describing our involvement in this medical training program with details of the process we follow.
The patients consent is sought for participation in health reminder systems and research projects. Consent can be withdrawn at any time by the patient.
Opportunities are available for patients and other visitors to tell us, ‘How we are doing” and we collect systematic patient experience feedback at least every 3 years.
The practice information brochure provides patients with information on how to provide feedback, including how to make a complaint.
We have a complaints resolution process which all staff can describe, and we also make the contact details for the state or territory health complaints agencies readily available to patients if we are unable to resolve their concerns ourselves.
Patients have a ‘right to complain’ and where possible patients and others are encouraged to raise any concerns directly with the practice team who are trained to make sure patients of the practice feel confident that any feedback or complaints made at the practice will be handled appropriately.
We believe most complaints can be responded to and resolved at the time the patient or other people such as carers (relative, friend other consumer) makes them known to us.
Under the Health Services (Conciliation & Review) Act 1987 people with complaints should try to resolve them directly with the health service provider. If a satisfactory outcome is not achieved, then the complaint can go directly to the Health Services Commissioner for action. The public may also call the Office of the Health Services Commissioner at any time concerning a query or to report a complaint.
Under national and state privacy laws: Commonwealth Privacy Act - Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 and Victorian Health Records Act 2001, this practice must provide and adhere to a complaints process for privacy issues and those related to the National Privacy Principles (NPPs)/Health Privacy Principles (HPPs).
All staff should be prepared to address complaints as they arise. Depending on the nature of the complaint and advice received from medical indemnity company, complaints are recorded and actioned, with a copy placed in the patient’s medical record if related to patient care.
All clinical staff and the practice manger are aware of their professional and legal obligations regarding the mandatory reporting of unprofessional conduct.
All suggestions or complaints should be raised with the practice manger, either verbally or in writing in on paper or via email. The complaint or suggestion can be anonymous and be submitted to the suggestions box at the front office.