Swales and Department of Health (310156)

Application number:
Decision date:
Wednesday, Mar 09, 2011

Swales and Department of Health


Section 47(3)(b) RTI Act – Grounds on which access may be refused

Section 49 RTI Act – Contrary to public interest


The applicant sought access to her deceased adult daughter’s full and complete medical records which were held by the Princess Alexandra Hospital, under the Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI Act).


By decision dated 18 March 2010, the applicant was granted access to 20 pages and refused access to 1083 pages under section 47(3)(b) of the RTI Act.


During the course of the external review, the Department of Health (also known as Queensland Health) (QH) agreed to release all but two full pages and parts of four pages to the applicant (the Remaining Information).


The applicant submitted that the Remaining Information should be released to her in full.


In weighing the competing public interest factors, the Right to Information Commissioner found that:


·          in relation to most of the Remaining Information:

             the applicant is an eligible family member who has applied for access to the medical records of a deceased person

             the information relates to the applicant’s daughter’s thoughts and feelings revealed in discussions that do not touch on the medical condition for which she was being treated

             there is no evidence to indicate that these thoughts and feelings were shared with the applicant or other members of the family; and

             if the information was disclosed, it could reasonably be expected to impact on her privacy if she were alive.


·          in relation to some of the Remaining Information:

             it contains the personal information of another person

             disclosure of the information would reveal the identity of that other person; and

             there is a strong public interest in protecting the other persons right to privacy.


Accordingly, the Right to Information Commissioner was satisfied that on balance the public interest factors in favour of nondisclosure in relation to the Remaining Information outweigh the public interest factors in favour of disclosure.