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09 March 2018
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Q. Is it OK to use faxes in general practice?

A. Where possible, transmission of personal health information by fax should be avoided. GPs are encouraged to use Healthlink and Healthmail, secure clinical email, to transfer confidential patient identifiable clinical information.

Where medical information is required urgently and a more secure mechanism is unavailable the following measures should be considered in relation to the use of faxes:

  • Ensure that the fax number to which the patient information is being sent is correct. Where an auto-dial function is being used, it is important to verify the recipient fax number from time to time to ensure that it has not been changed
  • Ask the recipient to confirm by phone that they have received the faxed document
  • Fax machines used for transmitting or receiving confidential information should be in secure areas not accessible to the general public
  • A fax cover sheet which clearly identifies the sender and intended recipient should be used. The fax cover sheet should also indicate that the information is confidential.

Possible wording for a fax sheet is as follows:
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: The information contained in this facsimile message is privileged and confidential information intended for the use of the individual or entity named above. If you have received this fax in error, please contact us immediately and then destroy the faxed material.