Recommendations from the VIC Coroner’s Court

8th March 2021

Recommendations from the Coroner’s Court of Victoria

ACPA has been requested to alert all members to recommendations from the Coroner’s Court of Victoria related to the treatment of young adults:

That when treating young adults, unless clear reasons contraindicate such action, they provide the patient with written information relevant to the diagnosis which can be provided to the patient’s family, friends and/or supports. In particular the information should include information about future symptoms which may indicate a relapse and the need for further therapy.

That when treating young adults in relation to self-harm and suicide issues that, unless clear reasons contraindicate such actions, management should include exploring the option for the patient approving/consenting for the psychologist to directly consult with the patient’s parent or a parent or partner about the patient’s condition and that which may be needed to support the patient.

That when treating young adults, unless clear reasons contraindicate such action, management should include establishing whether the patient has discussed the subject of treatment and any diagnosis with family, friends and/or supports and, if not, encourage and potentially provide strategy for such discussion with a view to such supports aiding treatment.

That when treating young adults, if the involvement of psychiatric care is considered appropriate, clear advice is provided as to how to access such care and the patient’s general practitioner is promptly notified regarding the recommendation in order to further facilitate access to such care.

That, regardless of your ongoing duty of confidentiality to deceased patients, that there is a specific exemption contained in Health Privacy Principle 2.4 of the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) which states that:

“a health service provider may disclose health information about an individual to an immediate family member of the individual if:
(ii) the disclosure is made for compassionate grounds
.”

Please note relevant exemption advice in other States, for example, the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 No 71 (NSW) and Information Privacy Act (Qld). 

If members wish to read the Coroner’s finding in detail please refer to

COR 2018 3490
https://www.coronerscourt.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-02/MitchellJamesDowling_349018.pdf