NSW Genetic Health Guidelines issued by the NSW Privacy Commissioner as a result of changes to HRIP Act
NSW Privacy Commissioner Dr Elizabeth Coombs has issued NSW Genetic Health Guidelines entitled: ‘Use and disclosure of genetic information to a patient’s genetic relatives: Guidelines for organisations in NSW’. The guidelines were developed to accompany the amendments to Health Privacy Principle (HPP) 10 and 11 in the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (HRIP Act) made in early 2012. These amendments are contained in Health Legislation Amendments Act 2012 and take effect on 1 November 2014.
The amendments to HPP 10 and 11 allow the use and disclosure of a patient’s genetic information to a genetic relative without their consent by an organisation in specific circumstances only. The circumstances include those that lessen or prevent a serious threat to the life, health or safety of a genetic relative of the individual to whom the information relates. In the case of disclosure, this includes information about deceased relatives.
The NSW Genetic Health Guidelines set out the framework to assist the health practitioners when deciding on whether to use or disclose genetic information in accordance with the legislation and the Commonwealth guidelines issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council.