Mental health

June 2011


Electronic care plans and medicolegal liability

Volume 40, No.6, June 2011 Pages 432-434

Moira Paterson

Kay M Jones

Peter Schattner

Akuh Adaji

Leon Piterman


Government policy encourages the use of care plans in general practice, and developments in information technology have the potential to facilitate their use via a shared electronic care plan. Sharing a comprehensive set of patient data raises privacy issues and questions about the nature and extent of potential liability.


A round table discussion was held with participants purposively selected for expertise in their fields.


Consensus stressed the privacy dangers inherent in the creation of a shared electronic care plan accessible by multiple treating professionals and a private sector intermediary information technology provider, and the difficulties in ensuring appropriate informed consent is provided by patients.


As the use of shared electronic care plans increases in Australia, new legal and ethical issues may emerge which need to be understood and addressed if general practitioners and other healthcare team members are to be able to participate with confidence.

Government policy encourages the use of care plans, especially in the treatment of chronic illness.1 Care plans differ from ordinary patient records generated by medical practitioners in that they are a separate, additional document which sets out a treatment plan.

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