Key messages

  • The Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 requires doctors and laboratories to notify the department of diagnoses of certain infectious diseases and medical conditions.

Information for notifying doctors

Medical practitioners (doctors) and pathology and laboratory services (laboratories) are required by law (under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008) to notify the department of diagnoses of specified infectious diseases and medical conditions.

The Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009 stipulate the information that must be provided. This includes:

  • demographic data
  • clinical history
  • the disease or condition diagnosed
  • risk factors
  • suspected modes of transmission
  • clinical comments
  • that this information is provided to the department
  • the reasons why it is provided
  • that there is a legal imperative to do so.

The department has developed an information sheet called Notifiable conditions in Victoria – privacy information for patients that you can give your patients to assist with this process.

Patient refusal

Patients cannot refuse to allow you to give this information to the department.

It is a legislative requirement that is designed to identify causes and risk factors for infectious diseases and other notifiable conditions, and to protect public health and safety.

Supplementary information collected through enhanced surveillance

Supplementary information is considered as statistical information essential for the planning, implementation and evaluation of public health services. The data collected are predominantly risk factors and clinical histories.

The information collected, including sensitive information (for example, ethnicity or sexual preferences), is regarded as core data relevant to public health practice.

The Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 permits the disclosure of relevant clinical and risk factor information, and information about the suspected modes of transmission. 

Privacy legislation and the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008

Privacy legislation and the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 are complementary legislation. They do not replace legal obligations regulating the handling of personal and health information, such as the notification of conditions listed in the Regulations. They sit alongside existing protections – such as medical confidentiality – and legislated responsibilities to disclose information where mandatory reporting exists.

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