s.279 WCRA – information reasonably requested “medical history”

RSL (Queensland) War Veterans Homes Limited & Anor v Palma [2010] QSC 222


WORKERS’ COMPENSATION – PROCEEDINGS TO OBTAIN COMPENSATION – PRELIMINARY REQUIREMENTS – NOTICE OF INJURY – GENERALLY – where respondent claims to have sustained physical and psychological injuries in the course of her employment at a nursing home when she was assaulted by a resident in September 2007 – where respondent has served a notice of claim for damages pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) – where alleged injuries include post traumatic stress disorder and depression – where there is evidence of an incident of domestic violence in the weeks prior to September 2007 and that in consequence respondent attended a women’s refuge – where pursuant to s 279 of the Act applicants seek orders that respondent provide an authority authorising them to obtain a complete copy of the records of the women’s refuge in respect of her attendances upon it, and an order that she provide a declaration answering certain questions – where respondent has agreed to provide an authority addressed to the women’s refuge – where ss 279(1)(b)(ii) and 279(1)(b)(iv) of the Act require the respondent to give information reasonably requested by the applicants about the nature of the injury and of any impairment or financial loss resulting from it, and about her medical history as far as it is relevant to the claim – whether the information sought is information about the nature of the injury – whether the information sought is information about her medical history as far as it is relevant to the claim

Margaret Wilson J

The application in respect of answering questions about medical history was dismissed on the basis:

The women’s refuge does not provide services by medical practitioners or qualified psychologists. It does not provide “medical treatment” within the meaning of the Act. In my view “medical history” refers to presentations for medical treatment and related purposes. I do not accept that it extends to presentations at the women’s refuge. That there is a duty to co-operate (and one which has been described as a broad obligation) is not sufficient warrant for giving “medical history” a meaning which is not otherwise open on the legislation.

Similarly, that the women’s refuge may refuse to provide records in the absence of a subpoena or other Court order is a matter of inconvenience to the applicants, but not a reason for giving “medical history” an otherwise unwarranted meaning.

Brisbane Barrister – David Cormack

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