Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Baby power appears to be a ticking time bomb for consumers



Reuters Investigates, 14 December 2018:

Facing thousands of lawsuits alleging that its talc caused cancer, J&J insists on the safety and purity of its iconic product. But internal documents examined by Reuters show that the company's powder was sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos and that J&J kept that information from regulators and the public….

J&J didn’t tell the FDA that at least three tests by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 had found asbestos in its talc – in one case at levels reported as “rather high.”……

…J&J has been compelled to share thousands of pages of company memos, internal reports and other confidential documents with lawyers for some of the 11,700 plaintiffs now claiming that the company’s talc caused their cancers — including thousands of women with ovarian cancer.

A Reuters examination of many of those documents, as well as deposition and trial testimony, shows that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, and that company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public.

The documents also depict successful efforts to influence U.S. regulators’ plans to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products and scientific research on the health effects of talc.

A small portion of the documents have been produced at trial and cited in media reports. Many were shielded from public view by court orders that allowed J&J to turn over thousands of documents it designated as confidential. Much of their contents is reported here for the first time……

The World Health Organization and other authorities recognize no safe level of exposure to asbestos. While most people exposed never develop cancer, for some, even small amounts of asbestos are enough to trigger the disease years later…..

What J&J produced in response to those demands has allowed plaintiffs’ lawyers to refine their argument: The culprit wasn’t necessarily talc itself, but also asbestos in the talc. That assertion, backed by decades of solid science showing that asbestos causes mesothelioma and is associated with ovarian and other cancers, has had mixed success in court.

In two cases earlier this year – in New Jersey and California – juries awarded big sums to plaintiffs who, like Coker, blamed asbestos-tainted J&J talc products for their mesothelioma.

A third verdict, in St. Louis, was a watershed, broadening J&J’s potential liability: The 22 plaintiffs were the first to succeed with a claim that asbestos-tainted Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talc, a longtime brand the company sold in 2012, caused ovarian cancer, which is much more common than mesothelioma. The jury awarded them $4.69 billion in damages. Most of the talc cases have been brought by women with ovarian cancer who say they regularly used J&J talc products as a perineal antiperspirant and deodorant.

At the same time, at least three juries have rejected claims that Baby Powder was tainted with asbestos or caused plaintiffs’ mesothelioma. Others have failed to reach verdicts, resulting in mistrials.

J&J has said it will appeal the recent verdicts against it. It has maintained in public statements that its talc is safe, as shown for years by the best tests available, and that the information it has been required to divulge in recent litigation shows the care the company takes to ensure its products are asbestos-free. It has blamed its losses on juror confusion, “junk” science, unfair court rules and overzealous lawyers looking for a fresh pool of asbestos plaintiffs…..

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Morrison Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government begins to position itself for forthcoming federal election


No, the Morrison Coalition Government has not suddenly developed empathy for others, a genuine understanding of its obligations under international law or a measure of respect for Australian courts.


Sensing the growing threat to its chance of holding onto government Messrs. Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton are finally allowing very ill children detained in offshore detention on Nauru to enter Australia for medical treatment.


ABC News, 22 October 2018:

Australian Border Force officials have revealed 11 children were transferred off Nauru today for medical attention, with another 52 minors remaining on the Pacific island.
Officials have amended the figure to 11 after initially saying it was 16.

The update comes as the federal Greens float a compromise agreement that could allow families to resettle in New Zealand with their families.

The Federal Government has indicated it may accept New Zealand's offer to take up to 150 refugees, but only if legislation passes Parliament ensuring people sent to offshore detention can never travel to Australia.

Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo said that legislation, which has been sitting in Federal Parliament since 2016, would close a "back door" to dissuade further boat arrivals.

According to the latest figures, there are 652 people on Nauru, with 541 classed as refugees and 23 as failed asylum seekers. The status of another 88 is yet to be determined.

The United States has accepted 276 people as part of a resettlement deal and rejected an additional 148.

There is growing pressure from crossbench MPs for the Government to accept New Zealand's offer, with incoming independent Kerryn Phelps describing the issue as a first priority.

The Greens are now open to considering a travel ban for the group, but only if all children are first brought to Australia for medical treatment, and restrictions only applied to the cohort sent to New Zealand.

"We need to put the politics aside and look after these children, who are being traumatised and brutalised right now," leader Richard Di Natale told the ABC.

"If resettlement after that means resettlement in New Zealand with limited restrictions, just on that group, that's something we will consider.

"What we won't consider is putting bans or restrictions [on] those people who have been left behind.".....

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

And the warnings continue about My Health Record.....


Financial Review, 13 August 2018:

One of the world's leading experts in cyber security policy has warned the manipulation of health data is one of his biggest concerns facing society, as debate continues to rage about the long-term viability of the government's controversial opt-out My Health Record.

Former Pentagon chief strategy officer for cyber policy and newly appointed head of cyber security strategy for data centre security company Illumio, Jonathan Reiber, told The Australian Financial Review the health data of MPs and business leaders would be of particular interest to cyber criminals.

"If I'm a malicious actor wanting to cause discontent, I would be interested in that," he said.

"If you get access to the health information of key leaders, you can understand what they like, who they are and what their problems are. [Cyber criminals] would want to look at a segment of 50 to 100 key leaders in the country, figure out data for intelligence purposes and then manipulate the data for the negative."

Earlier this month Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that the government would redraft the legislation surrounding My Health Record to restrict police access and allow records to be deleted permanently. 

He had previously copped criticism for saying the digital health database had "military-grade security", despite not having two-factor authentication protocols.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 August 2018:

Labor's health spokeswoman Catherine King said the government's decision to switch to an opt-out model, which Labor originally supported, gave rise to "a whole range of significant privacy and security issues that we don't think were thought of in the original enabling legislation".

"Are they then able to opt-out when they become adults? What's happening in terms of survivors of domestic violence and the capacity through the creation of a record by an abusing partner, of a record for their children or agreement to a record for their children, what security is in place to ensure that they are not traced?"

Legal experts have warned that the system provides a loophole for a violent person to create a record for their child without their ex-partner's consent, potentially allowing them to track down their estranged family's location, as revealed by Fairfax Media last month.

Ms King also highlighted concerns raised about access to medical records by health insurers, including in relation to worker’s compensation claims, which the government has said will not occur.


"We want to make sure that's not the case and we want to make sure that's not the case under the law," she said.


Some people may find their My Health Record places them at risk of stigma and discrimination or may cause safety issues.

You may wish to carefully consider whether you want your health records held or shared if you:

* have a criminal record or are affected by the criminal justice system
* use or have used drugs
* live with a lifelong transmissible condition such as HIV or hepatitis B
* have or had hepatitis C
* are not on treatment after it was recommended
* are sexually active and test regularly for STIs
* are or have been a sex worker
* are transgender or intersex
* are bisexual, lesbian or gay
* have lived with mental health issues
* have been pregnant or terminated a pregnancy
* are a health care worker.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

YouTube begins to face the Internet's darker realities in 2018


The Hill, 6 August 2018:

YouTube on Monday said it had banned Alex Jones’s Infowars channel, following similar actions taken against the controversial right-wing conspiracy theorist by other major U.S. technology companies.

After the channel violated YouTube's policies against child endangerment and hate speech, Jones was banned for trying to circumvent the site's enforcement measures, according to a source familiar with the company’s decision. The source said Jones received a 90-day moratorium on livestreaming for violating its policies and that he then tried to promote his flagship radio show on other YouTube pages, prompting a permanent ban.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Australian Digital Health Agency is considering adding DNA data to My Health Record


Crikey.com.au, 6 April 2018:

DNA DEBATE

The federal government’s controversial My Health Record program is capable of storing genomic data, such as cancer risks, using technology that both has huge research applications and highlights privacy and security concerns.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that genome-sequencing company Genome.One, which can track genetic variations and therefore disease risks, has built “necessary infrastructure” for uploading sensitive genomic data into the opt-out system.

University of Canberra privacy expert Bruce Arnold has criticised the inherent risks of DNA-tracking technology and, just a week after the government backdown on police access to My Health Records, today’s news as again demonstrating a lack public consultation.

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) which is responsibe for My Health Record gave Genome.One, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Garvan Institute, $40,000 in September 2017 to support the development of this software.

Its GoExplore™ software provides sequencing and analyses of patients’ DNA samples to assesses their risk of developing 52 hereditary conditions, including 31 cancers, 13 heart conditions, as well several other conditions where monitoring or intervention can be of benefit. 

In a change of focus, Genome.One and The Garvan Institute are reportedly no longer offering clinical reporting for genetic disease diagnosis or personal health genomics in Australia. This service was priced at $6,400 plus GST, with no Medicare rebate.

Staffing numbers in Genome.One have been severely cut, new capital is being sought and, Gavan has stated that it intends to spin off Genome.One software into a new company in which it will be a minority shareholder.

However, Genome.One still intends to pilot its genomics technology integrated into GP practice software and on !8 April 2018 its CEO stated; “We're working with some electronic medical record providers and we're hoping that we can get a trial underway at some point this year”.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Tell me again why the Turnbull Government is insisting My Health Record will become mandatory by the end of October 2018?


It is not just ordinary health care consumers who have concerns about the My Health Record database, system design, privacy issues and ethical considerations.

It is not just the Turnbull Government which has not sufficiently prepared public and private health care organisations for the nationwide rollout of mass personal and health information collection - the organisations themselves are not ready.

Lewis Ryan (Academic GP Registrar)
* 91 % of GP Registrars have never used My Health Record in a clinical context

* 65% of GP Registrars have never discussed My Health Record with a patient

* 78%  of GP Registrars have never received training in how to use My Health Record

* 73% of GP Registrars say lack of training is a barrier to using My Health Record

* 71% of  GP Registrars who have used the My Health Record system say that the user interface is a barrier

* Only 21% of  GP Registrars believe privacy is well protected in the My Health Record system

In fact Australia-wide only 6,510 general practice organisations to date have registered to use My Health Record and these would only represent a fraction of the 35,982 GPs practicing across the country in 2016-17.


UPDATE

Healthcare IT News, 3 August 2018:
The Federal Government’s Health Care Homes is forcing patients to have a My Health Record to receive chronic care management through the program, raising ethical questions and concerns about discrimination.
The government’s Health Care Homes trial provides coordinated care for those with chronic and complex diseases through more than 200 GP practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services nationally, and enrolment in the program requires patients to have a My Health Record or be willing to get one.
But GP and former AMA president Dr Kerryn Phelps claimed the demand for patients to sign up to the national health database to access Health Care Homes support is unethical.
“I have massive ethical concerns about that, particularly given the concerns around privacy and security of My Health Record. It is discriminatory and it should be removed,” Phelps told Healthcare IT News Australia.
Under a two-year trial beginning in late 2017, up to 65,000 people are eligible to become Health Care Homes patients as part of a government-funded initiative to improve care for those with long-term conditions including diabetes, arthritis, and heart and lung diseases.
Patients in the program receive coordinated care from a team including their GP, specialists and allied health professionals and according to the Department of Health: “All Health Care Homes’ patients need to have a My Health Record. If you don’t have a My Health Record, your care team will sign you up.”
Phelps said as such patients who don’t want a My Health Record have been unable to access a health service they would otherwise be entitled to.
“When you speak to doctors who are in involved in the Heath Care Homes trial, their experience is that some patients are refusing to sign up because they don’t want a My Health Record. So it is a discriminatory requirement.”
It has also raised concerns about possible future government efforts to compel Australians to have My Health Records.
“The general feedback I’m getting is that the Health Care Homes trial is very disappointing to say the least but, nonetheless, what this shows is that signing up to My Health Record could just be made a prerequisite to sign up for other things like Centrelink payments or workers compensation.”
Human rights lawyer and Digital Rights Watch board member Lizzie O’Shea claims patients should have a right to choose whether they are signed up to the government’s online medical record without it affecting their healthcare.
“It is deeply concerning to see health services force their patients to use what has clearly been shown to be a flawed and invasive system. My Health Record has had sustained criticism from privacy advocates, academics and health professionals, and questions still remain to be answered on the privacy and security of how individual's data will be stored, accessed and protected,” O’Shea said. [my yellow highlighting]

Thursday, 2 August 2018

NSW Roads & Maritime Services finally come clean: We don't give a damn about any of the concerns Woombah & Iluka residents have about our asphalt plant, it's only Pacific Complete's bottom line that matters


The Daily Examiner via Press Reader, 1 August 2018:

ROADS and Martime Services has revealed it will build at least two asphalt batching plants near the Pacific Highway, most likely between Tyndale and the Iluka turnoff, next year.

Pacific Highway general manager Bob Higgins said the RMS has pressed the pause button on construction of one plant at Woombah, but the need to supply the Glenugie to Iluka Rd turnoff section with 170,000 tonnes of asphalt would require two plants.

He said the RMS would review the supply strategy for the manufacture and delivery of asphalt on the stretch of highway upgrade after protests from the Woombah community.

But Mr Higgins said if push came to shove when the RMS review decided on locations, residents’ objections would take second place to the technical needs of the project. [my yellow highlighting]

What a travesty Pacific Highway Upgrade community consultations are cannot get much clearer than this.

I'm sure local residents will not be pleased to have their fears confirmed.

Whether he meant to or not, Bob Higgins has probably just cemented the proposed Woombah asphalt batching site as a March 2019 NSW state election issue in the Clarence electorate for both the NSW National Party and the Berejiklian Coalition Government.

No-one likes to be told their valid concerns - about environmental impact, road safety, air quality and potential reduction in tourism numbers which underpin the local economy - don't matter to the state government down in Sydney.

BACKGROUND






Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Turnbull Government prepares an end run around the Australian electorate?


In 1986 the Federal Government couldn’t get the national electorate to accept the Australia Card, a national identity card to be carried by all citizens.

Likewise in 2007 the wider electorate rejected the proposed Access Card, a national identity card with a unique personal identification number, which was to be linked to a centralised database expected to contain an unprecedented amount of personal and other information.

Federal Government also failed to have everyone embrace the idea of MyGov, a data sharing, one-stop digital portal for access to government services created in 2013. To date only 11.5 million people out of a population of over 24.9 million hold an account with MyGov.

When after three and a half years the populace did not register in sufficient numbers for the so-called Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR), an intrusive opt-in data retention system, government changed tack.

It relabelled PCEHR as My Health Record (MHR) in 2016 and broadened the number of agencies which could access an individual’s personal/health information. Decreeing it would become a mandatory data collection system applied to the entire Australian population, with only a short an opt-out period prior to full program implementation1.

However, it seems that the Turnbull Federal Government expects around 1.9 million people to opt-out of or cancel their My Heath Record in the next two months. Possibly with more cancellations to occur in the future, as privacy and personal safety become issues due to the inevitable continuation of MHR data breaches and the occurrence of unanticipated software vulnerabilities/failures.

So Turnbull and his Liberal and Nationals cronies have a backup in place in 2018 called the Data Sharing and Release Bill, which Introduces legislation to improve the use and reuse of public sector data within government and with private corporations outside of government, as well as granting access to and the sharing of data on individuals and businesses that is currently otherwise prohibited.

The bill also allows for the sharing of transaction, usage and product data with service competitors and comparison services. An as yet unrealised  provision which is currently being wrapped up in a pretty bow and called a consumer right - but one that is likely to be abused by the banking, finance, insurance, electricity/gas industry sectors.

The bill appears to override the federal privacy act where provisions are incompatible.

This is a bill voters have yet to see, because the Turnbull Government has not seen fit to publish the bill’s full text. Only an issues paper is available at present.

Notes:

1. Federal Government may have succeeded in retaining the personal details of every person who filled in the 2016 Census by permanently retaining these details and linking this information to their future Census information in order to track people overtime for the rest of their lives, but this win for government as Big Brother was reliant on stealth in implementation and was limited in what it could achieve at the time. 

Because not everyone ended up with a genuine unique identification key as an unknown number of individual citizens and permanent residents (possibly well in excess of half a million souls) as acts of civil disobedience deliberately filled in the national survey forms with falsified information or managed to evade filling in a form altogether. 

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Pacific Highway Upgrade 2018: the saga of the unwanted Woombah asphalt batching plant continues


In its latest letterbox drop to Woombah and Iluka communities on 30 July 2018 NSW Road and Maritime Services (RMS) has admitted that, despite a commitment to review the proposed site of the Woombah temporary asphalt plant servicing the Iluka to Devil’s Pulpit section of the Pacific Highway upgrade, it still intends to place 4,000 tons of asphalt on this site by Christmas 2018.

As if from these photographs below locals could not already tell that the plan to use the site for asphalt batching remains active - despite strong community opposition based on road safety, air quality, health and environmental concerns.




Photographs supplied anonymously




This turnoff is the temporary Pacific Highway-Garrets Lane intersection created in March 2018 by NSW Roads and Maritime Services and Pacific Complete as the highway upgrade proceeds along a 27 kilometre stretch. 

It is also the intersection now used by heavy vehicles accessing the proposed site of the temporary asphalt batching plant.

It is an intersection and road Pacific Complete is assuring local residents has been designed and built in accordance with the design criteria.

As the Iluka and Woombah communities were not supplied with a detailed traffic audit for the road design or the change to road design which is set to occur in 2019, they have to take the consortium's word that this is so.

If the complaints by some local residents of being harried by impatient construction truck drivers as they attempt to negotiate the Pacific Highway-Garrets Lane turnoff are any indication, between now and Christmas there may be another collision there.

RMS and Pacific Complete have promised to hold information sessions with the two communities again - one version states sessions commence on 30 July 2018 and another rather obscure document states they commence on 30 August 2018.

July 30 has come and gone without that particular information session taking place.

The deadline for submissions on the temporary asphalt batching plant is 10 August 2018.

Given that deadline, either RMS and Pacific Complete are the most appalling managers of the community consultation process or they are trying to limit the ability to submit fully informed written responses by10 August.

The suspicion that National Party cronyism has played a part in the choice of site is starting to be quietly muttered under the breath as well. It seems Lower Clarence River folk have long memories.

This botched Iluka to Devil's Pulpit highway construction planning and community consultation is likely to be on the minds of quite a few Woombah and Iluka residents as they cast their votes at the NSW state election in March next year.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

When it comes to My Heath Record the words horse, stable, door, spring to mind


In January 2016 the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) became a corporate Commonwealth established under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Establishing the Australian Digital Health Agency) Rule.

It has a board appointed by the Minister for Health in whose portfolio it is situated and the board is the accountable body of the ADHA.

Currently Mr Jim Birch AM, Chair. Mr Rob Bransby, Dr Eleanor Chew, Dr Elizabeth Deven, Ms Lyn McGrath, Ms Stephanie Newell, Dr Bennie Ng,  Professor Johanna Westbrook and Michael Walsh sit on this board.

The executive team is headed by Tim Kelsey as CEO, with Professor Meredith Makeham as Chief Medical Adviser and Bettina McMahon, Ronan O’Connor, Terrance Seymour & Dr. Monica Trujillo as the four executive managers.

ADHA is also the designated Systems Operator for My Health Record which currently holds the personal health information of 5.98 million people across the country and will add the remaining 19 million after 15 October 2018 unless they opt out of being included in this national database.

Given the potential size of this database the question of cyber security springs to mind.

It seems that the Australian Digital Health Agency has not been independently audited for cyber resilience by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) ahead of beginning the mammoth task of collecting and collating the personal heath information of those19 million people.

Australian National Audit OfficePotential audit: 2018-19:

Management of cyber security risks in My Health Record

The audit would examine the effectiveness of the Australian Digital Health Agency’s management of cyber security risks associated with the implementation and ongoing maintenance of the My Health Record system.
My Health Record creates a record of Australians’ interactions with healthcare providers, and more than 5.5 million Australians have a My Health Record. The audit would focus on whether adequate controls are in place to protect the privacy and integrity of individual records.

It seems that the Australian general public still only has the honeypot's dubious word that it cannot be raided by unauthorised third parties.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has reacted to growing community concern about the number of agencies which can access My Health Records with a vague promise of "refinements" and with this outright lie; "The fact is that there have been no privacy complaints or breaches with My Health Record in six years and there are over 6 million people with My Health Records".

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has recorded complaints and at least 242 individual My Health Records have been part of mandatory data breach reports in 2015-16 to 2016-17, with nine of the 51 reported breach events involving "the unauthorised access of a healthcare recipient’s My Health Record by a third party".

BACKGROUND

Intermedium, 8 May 2018:

Re-platforming options for the My Health Record (MHR) system will soon be up for consideration, with an Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) spokesperson confirming that a request for information will be released in the next few months to inform plans to modernise the infrastructure underpinning Australia’s mammoth patient health database.

An open-source, cloud-based environment has already been flagged as a possibility for the MHR by Department of Health (DoH) Special Adviser for Strategic trategic Health Systems and Information Management Paul Madden at Senate Estimates in May last year. He also said that the re-platforming decision was one of many “variables” that needed to be squared away to accurately gauge how much the MHR system will cost beyond 2019-20.
“The variables in there include the re-platforming of the system to an open source environment, using cloud technology… which will be something we will not know the cost of until we hit the market to get a view on that”, Madden said last year. “Our commitment is to come back to the budget in 2019 to paint out those costs for the four years beyond.”
ADHA is scoping out MHR re-platforming options early, with the existing contract with the Accenture-led consortium not set to expire until 2020. As the “National Infrastructure Operator”, Accenture is tasked with running and maintaining MHR’s infrastructure. The prime contractor works with Oracle and Orion Health to provide the core systems and portals behind MHR.
Accenture was awarded the contract to design, build, integrate and test the then-personally controlled electronic health record system (PCEHR) back in 2011, and has signed 13 contracts worth a total of $709.53 million with DoH in relation to the MHR in that time. With the original infrastructure now over seven years old, ADHA recognise the importance of modernising the environment supporting the MHR....

The Sydney Morning Herald, Letter to the Editor, 26 July 2018. p20:

What happens to medical records when opting out?

Dr Kerryn Phelps reminds us that, if people don't opt out, the My Health Records Act allows disclosure of patients' health information to police, courts and the ATO without a warrant ("My Health Record backlash builds", July 25). This would be in addition to "health information such as allergies, medicines and immunisations" available for emergency staff.

How can the access be restricted to emergency staff? How can only certain categories of information be released when allergies and medication are part of general medical notes? I was not reassured by "serious penalties relating to the misuse of information do not apply to accidental misuse" on the website. I opted out.

My GP has told me that, nonetheless, she will be obliged to upload my records - which sounds credible since I have formally opted out with the government, not with my doctor's practice. So what happens - does my health record get kicked off "the cloud"? What exactly did I opt out of?

Denise De Vreeze [my yellow highlighting]

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt is not being truthful about My Health Record and he knows it


On 16 July 2018 the Australian Minister for Health and Liberal MP for Flinders, Gregory Andrew 'Greg' Hunt, characterised My Health Record as a "secure summary" of an individual's key health information.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) tells a rather different story.

One where at least 242 individual My Health Records have been part of mandatory data breach reports in 2015-16 to 2016-17, with nine of the 51 reported breach events involving "the unauthorised access of a healthcare recipient’s My Health Record by a third party".

A story which also involves at least 96 instances of Medicare uploading data to the wrong digital health records and also uploading claim information to another 123 My Health Records apparently without the knowledge or consent of the persons in whose names these My Health Records had been created.

There were other instances where MyGov accounts held by healthcare recipients were incorrectly linked to the My Health Records of other healthcare recipients.

Prior to the database name change and system change from opt-in to opt-out there had been another 9 data breaches of an unspecified nature reported, involving an unknown number of what are now called My Health Records.

More instances are now being aired in mainstream and social media where My Health Records were created by DHS Medicare Repository Services or other agents/agencies without the knowledge or consent of the individual in whose name the record had been created.
Healthcare IT News 16 July 2018


If this is how the national e-health database was officially functioning malfunctioning by 30 June 2017, how on earth is the system going to cope when it attempts to create millions of new My Health Records after 15 October 2018?

On the first day of the 60 day opt-out period about 20,000 people refused to have a My Health Record automatically created for them and at least one Liberal MP has also opted out, the Member for Goldstein and member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport Tim Wilson. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull has stated his view that mass withdrawals will not kill the national digital health records system - perhaps because he and his government are possibly contemplating adopting the following three coercive recommendations found amongst the thirty-one recommendations included in the Siggins Miller November 2016 Evaluation of the Participation Trials for the My Health Record: Final Report:

20. Use all mechanisms available in commissioning and funding health services as vehicles to require the use of the My Health Record to obtain funds where practical.

21. Consider ways to require the use of the My Health Record system by all healthcare providers and how to best use the Government’s purchasing power directly (e.g. in the aged care sector), via new initiatives as they arise (such the Health Care Home initiative) or via PHNs commissioning clinical services (e.g. require use of the My Health Record system in all clinical and aged care services that receive Commonwealth funds). Such requirements should have a timeframe within which healthcare providers need to become compliant.

22. Explore with health insurers how they could encourage preferred suppliers and clients to use the My Health Record system as part of their push for preventive care and cost containment.

That the My Health Record is not about improving health service delivery for individual patients is indicated by the fact that a My Health Record is retained by the National Repositories Service for between 30 and up to 130 years after death and, even during an individual's lifetime can be accessed by the courts, police, other government agencies and private corporations listed as research organisations requiring medical/lifestyle information for what is essentially commercial gain, at the discretion of the Secretary of the Department of Health or the Digital Health Agency Systems Operator. See: My Health Records Act 2012 (20 September 2017), Subdivision B - s63 to s70

To put it bluntly, this national database will allow federal government to monitor the personal lives of Australian citizens more closely, enforce civil & criminal law, monetise collated data for its own benefit  and, weaponize the personal information collected anytime it feels threatened by dissenting opinion.

NOTES

OAIC annual reports:


The Guardian, 22 July 2018:

Australia’s impending My Health Record system is “identical” to a failed system in England that was cancelled after it was found to be selling patient data to drug and insurance companies, a British privacy expert has said.

My Health Record is a digital medical record that stores medical data and shares it between medical providers. In the UK, a similar system called care.data was announced in 2014, but cancelled in 2016 after an investigation found that drug and insurance companies were able to buy information on patients’ mental health conditions, diseases and smoking habits.

The man in charge of implementing My Health Record in Australia, Tim Kelsey, was also in charge of setting up care.data. 

Phil Booth, the coordinator of British privacy group Medconfidential, said the similarities were “extraordinary” and he expected the same privacy breaches to occur.

“The parallels are incredible,” he said. “It looks like it is repeating itself, almost like a rewind or a replay. The context has changed but what is plainly obvious to us from the other side of the planet, is that this system seems to be the 2018 replica of the 2014 care.data.” [my yellow highlighting]

North Coast Voices , 22 July 2018, Former Murdoch journalist in charge of MyHealth records –what could possibly go wrong?

UPDATE

Australian Parliamentary Library, Flagpost, 23 July 2018:

Section 70 of the My Health Records Act 2012 enables the System Operator (ADHA) to ‘use or disclose health information’ contained in an individual’s My Health Record if the ADHA ‘reasonably believes that the use or disclosure is reasonably necessary’ to, among other things, prevent, detect, investigate or prosecute any criminal offence, breaches of a law imposing a penalty or sanction or breaches of a prescribed law; protect the public revenue; or prevent, detect, investigate or remedy ‘seriously improper conduct’. Although ‘protection of the public revenue’ is not explained, it is reasonable to assume that this might include investigations into potential fraud and other financial offences involving agencies such as Centrelink, Medicare, or the Australian Tax Office. The general wording of section 70 is a fairly standard formulation common to various legislation—such as the Telecommunications Act 1997—which appears to provide broad access to a wide range of agencies for a wide range of purposes. 

While this should mean that requests for data by police, Home Affairs and other authorities will be individually assessed, and that any disclosure will be limited to the minimum necessary to satisfy the request, it represents a significant reduction in the legal threshold for the release of private medical information to law enforcement. Currently, unless a patient consents to the release of their medical records, or disclosure is required to meet a doctor’s mandatory reporting obligations (e.g. in cases of suspected child sexual abuse), law enforcement agencies can only access a person’s records (via their doctor) with a warrant, subpoena or court order....

It seems unlikely that this level of protection and obligation afforded to medical records by the doctor-patient relationship will be maintained, or that a doctor’s judgement will be accommodated, once a patient’s medical record is uploaded to My Health Record and subject to section 70 of the My Health Records Act 2012. The AMA’s Guide to Medical Practitioners on the use of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record System (from 2012) does not clarify the situation.

Although it has been reported that the ADHA’s ‘operating policy is to release information only where the request is subject to judicial oversight’, the My Health Records Act 2012 does not mandate this and it does not appear that the ADHA’s operating policy is supported by any rule or regulation. As legislation would normally take precedence over an agency’s ‘operating policy’, this means that unless the ADHA has deemed a request unreasonable, it cannot routinely require a law enforcement body to get a warrant, and its operating policy can be ignored or changed at any time.

The Health Minister’s assertions that no one’s data can be used to ‘criminalise’ them and that ‘the Digital Health Agency has again reaffirmed today that material … can only be accessed with a court order’ seem at odds with the legislation which only requires a reasonable belief that disclosure of a person’s data is reasonably necessary to prevent, detect, investigate or prosecute a criminal offence…..

Although the disclosure provisions of different agencies may be more or less strict than those of the ADHA and the My Health Records Act 2012, the problem with the MHR system is the nature of the data itself. As the Law Council of Australia notes, ‘the information held on a healthcare recipient’s My Health Record is regarded by many individuals as highly sensitive and intimate’. The National Association of People with HIV Australia has suggested that ‘the department needs to ensure that an individual’s My Health Record is bound to similar privacy protections as existing laws relating to the privacy of health records’. Arguably, therefore, an alternative to the approach of the current scheme would be for medical records registered in the MHR system to be legally protected from access by law enforcement agencies to at least the same degree as records held by a doctor.