CONFUSION surrounds child privacy laws at local pharmacies.
UFS Pharmacies requires anyone over 12 to give consent for tax invoices to be released to their parents.
The invoices hide medication information but list dates and the value of medication given. The Bendigo Advertiser contacted several other Bendigo pharmacies with questions over privacy laws.
Each pharmacist said the laws were murky and open to interpretation, with no clear guidelines over age of consent.
UFS Pharmacies chief executive Michael Fleming said the pharmacy had “interpreted” the privacy laws.
“It’s an interpretation of privacy policies,” he said.
“We’re just trying to do the right thing with people concerned. We require people over 12 to sign consent forms. While it seems strange a 12-year-old would need to sign, we understand a 12-year-old does have a right to privacy.”
A parent, who asked not to be named, said 12-year-olds were unlikely to understand what they were signing.
“I understand that UFS is trying to protect children’s privacy,” she said. “But I don’t think a 12 or 14-year-old would understand that.
“It’s not really giving informed consent anyway.”
Deborah Williams of Pharmasave said permission was not needed to release a censored tax invoice, but permission was needed for parents to access information on medications for children aged 12 to 16.
“I think the regulations are probably a little bit unclear,” she said. “When you talk about privacy laws, no-one really understands them.”
Strathdale Pharmacy pharmacist Hannah Boyd said she was uncertain what could and could not be released.
She said the company did not require permission from children for their parents to access their information. “If they present with a Medicare card and all the people are on the one card, we will give it to them,” Ms Boyd said.
Bendigo Day and Night Pharmacy manager Katherine Hancy said the laws needed to be clarified.
“There have been cases of pharmacies being sued over these types of situations,” she said.
A spokesman for state Health Minister David Davis did not provide comment.