Optimising patients for surgery is an essential part of good medicine and requires a team approach. In recent years there have been improvements in perioperative iron management as a result of the National Blood Collaborative, in which St Vincent's and Lismore Base took part. The improvement has occurred because of improved co-ordination and communication between the GP, surgeon and the pre-operative clinics.

A difficulty sometimes encountered by the pre-op clinic at LBH is getting current health information on their more frail patients. This information is usually sent to the surgeon by the GP but may not in turn reach the pre-op clinic.

North Coast GPs are increasingly being requested to send down a faxed health summary to various departments at the hospital, most notably pharmacy and the pre-op clinic. While this is not a problem for most, some practices are concerned about the release of this information particularly since the recent enactment of the Mandatory Data Breach Notification legislation.

They see these requests as requiring the written consent of the patient to release this information to a third party and quote the RACGP Standards for General Practices in support of their position.

Some have argued that this as an overly strict interpretation of the intent of the law and the Standards. Section of the RACGP Privacy and Managing Health Information in General Practice paper (May 2017) states:-

Health information may be used or disclosed for another ‘secondary’ purpose where the patient would reasonably expect a use or disclosure related to their healthcare. (See the link for a more detailed explanation of the various scenarios.)

Past experience suggests that most patients believe information is readily shared between all members of the medical team. They are often, unpleasantly, surprised when information about a recent medical episode is not available.

Good clinical practice requires that all appropriate patient information be readily distributed between all medical members of the treating team, which includes the GP. The recent legislation does not negate this in any way.