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Emergency access to your My Health Record

When is emergency access allowed?

A healthcare provider is allowed to collect, use or disclose information in your My Health Record in an emergency without your consent if:

  • it’s not reasonable or possible to get your consent and they’ve reason to believe that it will lessen or prevent a serious threat to your life, health or safety (for example, if you’re unconscious in an emergency situation)
  • they have reason to believe that it’s necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to public health or safety (for example, if a dangerous infection has been detected in a hospital and it’s necessary to identify the source of the infection)

Unless these conditions apply, a healthcare provider can only access your My Health Record with your consent or they will be breaching the law and penalties may apply.

Who can access your My Health Record in an emergency?

Under the My Health Records Act 2012 (My Health Records Act), healthcare providers, the Australian Digital Health Agency and other parties are allowed to collect, use and disclose information in your My Health Record under certain emergency situations.

If emergency access is granted to a healthcare provider (such as a hospital or medical practice), they’re responsible for deciding which individuals in their organisation will have access.

The Australian Digital Health Agency’s privacy policy explains how personal information will be handled in your My Health Record.

What information can be accessed in an emergency?

All information in your My Health Record can be accessed in an emergency, except for:

  • documents that have been removed
  • information entered in the consumer-only notes section (a healthcare provider can't view these notes regardless of your access control settings)

When emergency access is granted, any access controls previously set by you are overridden. This means that any restricted information can be accessed in an emergency.

How long is access given in an emergency?

The Australian Digital Health Agency grants emergency access for 5 days. Once this period ends, all access will revert to your access control settings.

If the emergency situation continues beyond the initial 5-day period, a healthcare provider needs to request extended emergency access from the Australian Digital Health Agency.

How to find out if your My Health Record was accessed in an emergency

The Australian Digital Health Agency records any emergency access to your My Health Record. To find out who accessed your My Health Record and when, either:

  • Sign in to myGov to access your My Health Record, then view the access history
  • Choose to be sent an email or text message when your My Health Record is accessed in an emergency
  • Phone the My Health Record help line on 1800 723 471