We have recently become aware of several South Australia Employment Tribunal (SAET) summonses and other legal requests for clinical records of program clients, where the program’s requirements for responding to these requests have not been appropriately followed by some providers.
Client records are owned by the Commonwealth and protocols for responding to legal summons requests and handling of client information must be followed in accordance with the program’s requirements.
Program protocol for legal requests
The program will facilitate the legal request and will liaise directly with you and the requesting legal entity to obtain and provide the requested client record.
If the SAET or a legal firm contacts you to request the clinical information of a program client, you must refer this request in the first instance by emailing us. You should not respond to the request directly or release the client’s information to the requesting legal entity.
Upon receipt of a legal request for client information, we will contact you to request a copy of the client’s complete record be securely uploaded to our EDW Dropbox within a 7-day timeframe. Please cooperate with our timeframe requests and maintain communication if you foresee the provided timeframe may be problematic.
We must follow strict guidelines for the appropriate handling and release of Commonwealth information including seeking client consent, identification checks and an internal legal review of the client file before releasing Commonwealth information to external bodies.
It is essential that client records are well maintained should we request them to assist with legal summons requests or other program requirements.
For more information, refer to the:
- provider handbook
- Hearing Services Program (Voucher) Instrument 2019 division 5.2 – clause 26 regarding maintenance of client records.
- service provider contract
- clause 11(1) concerning the creation and ongoing maintenance of client records and documentation
- clause 16.2(c) relating to the provision of client records upon request by the Commonwealth.