23 Feb 2010

Doctor who breached privacy seeks judicial review

8:15 pm on 23 February 2010

An Invercargill doctor who exposed a rest home worker's drug problem and was found to have breached her privacy has taken the matter to a judicial review.

Robert Henderson is asking the High Court in Wellington to overturn the Privacy Commissioner's ruling.

The complaint dates back to 2003 and arose after Dr Henderson learnt that a rest home worker on the methadone programme had approached another doctor seeking opiates.

Dr Henderson was concerned the woman had access to drugs in her work at the rest home and raised the matter with its nursing supervisor.

An investigation by the Privacy Commissioner found Dr Henderson had breached the worker's privacy by not raising his concerns with the rest home's manager.

Dr Henderson's lawyer told Justice Miller on Tuesday that his client had reasonable grounds for his action, but the commissioner had wrongly put the onus on him to prove that he did.

However, the commissioner's lawyer said that under the Privacy Act, there are some exemptions regarding the passing on of a person's health information, but they did not apply in Dr Henderson's case.