Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Now This Might Have The Effect Of Focussing The Mind Of Some GPs!

This appeared last week:

GPs face massive fines over PCEHR privacy breaches

| 16 October, 2015 |  
GPs and practice staff face jail and fines of up to $108,000 for misuse of the PCEHR system under controversial new laws being pushed through the Federal Parliament.
There have been long-running fears across the medical profession about the scale of civil sanctions for unauthorised use or disclosure of information on the controversial system which was launched three years ago.
But under the new regime the Federal Government is pushing to introduce, civil penalties will increase five-fold. 
Any health practitioner who “recklessly” flouts the system's privacy provisions will be fined up to $108,000 for each offence.
For so-called body corporates - such as a GP practices - a single breach will trigger civil fines of up to $540,000.
In a further tightening of the screw, the government plans for the first time to introduce criminal penalties of up two years in jail for privacy abuse of the PCEHR - although fines will be limited to $21,600 per offence.
The government argues the measures are necessary given the potential sensitivity of medical information held on the system.
But the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights says the fines are so high that the government is in danger of using civil law to impose “criminal” sanctions on those it prosecutes.
In a report released on Tuesday, the committee said proof of criminal offences had to be “beyond reasonable doubt”.
But under the government’s proposed regime, prosecutors would be imposing the sanctions based only on the “balance of probabilities” that wrong-doing had occurred.
This would breach article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which mandates the right to a fair trial, the committee's report stated.
“The objective behind including civil penalties…substantially more than the penalty available under the criminal offence provision, without the usual protections available to those charged with a criminal offence...has not been explained [by the government],” the committee said.
The committee, chaired by former attorney general Philip Ruddock, also warns that using civil law provisions means the burden of proof can shift from prosecutors to defendants, undermining the presumption of innocence applied in criminal cases.
The AMA has said it is alarmed at the government’s move to protect privacy on the PCEHR system, claiming the sanctions are excessive.
More here:
I would suggest this is a very good reason to have nothing to do with the system unless it is much more useful and provides clear assurances that only deliberate actions can trigger penalties.
Yet again I would suggest this is another example of the out of touch bureaucrats in Canberra just going feral!
David.

1 comment:

Bernard Robertson-Dunn said...

So the people who might get some use out of it could find themselves up for a lot of cash if they misunderstand how to use the system. Will this encourage them to use it? Only in exceptional cases - ie not very often.

Will it stop those who are not supposed to use it? Probably not. They won't know about the big fines or will ignore them, and will likely be happy to take the risk, especially if they can sell the info to someone trying to find the partner they've been abusing, or a private detective looking for someone, or a media hack looking for the dirt on a Federal Minister.

Maybe someone should do a poll on politicians after first explaining to them carefully just how poor the access controls are.

Will you:
a) Have a record with no controls?
b) Have a record limited to specific institutions?
c) Block specific documents, even if there is relevant information in them?
d) Use a Pseudonym?
e) all b) through d)
f) Opt-Out?

The results could be interesting.