At Fertility Associates we want to benchmark against international best practice and take all practical measure to ensure quality, safety and privacy in all our practices.
Below is an outline of some of these areas.
Your feedback is important
We aim to provide the best possible care, and we want to know if you feel there are things we could do better. We also like to know when you’re pleased with our services too! We appreciate all your feedback, which can be submitted using our online patient survey form.
If the care you receive is not to the standard you expected, please contact the Clinic Manager of your clinic - so that any concerns can be addressed promptly. We respond to all complaints. If you are not satisfied with all our attempts to resolve the problem, we can help you contact an advocate associated with the Health and Disability Commission. Your feedback will not affect your treatment at our clinics in any way.
Our Mission and Quality Policy
Our mission statement is, ‘Working together, we will give you the best chance of a healthy child through excellent care and world-class technology’.
We, the directors and staff, are personally responsible for the quality of your care, your safety, and optimising your chance of success. Each year we set ourselves goals - personally and as a company – so that we continually improve.
Quality standards and accreditation
Our clinics are certified to the New Zealand Fertility Standard NZS 8181 by independent auditors. In addition, we voluntarily maintain ISO 9001:2008 and RTAC certification as a tool for continuous improvement. RTAC is the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee of the Fertility Society of Australia (FSA).
Auditing includes inspection of patient records – the auditors sign a confidentiality agreement to maintain your privacy.
At Fertility Associates, we operate within a formal framework of quality control. This includes written protocols for treatment programmes, laboratory methods, infection control and staff training.
We are required under government regulations to provide non-identifying information about some treatments to bodies like ACART and the Australia and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database (ANZARD). We mention this in our consent forms for the relevant treatments. None of this information is identifiable, and each user has a strict code of practice for using the information we give them.
Fertility Associates only undertakes treatments that are ‘established procedures’ under the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology (HART) Act, or that have been approved following an application to the Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ECART). Some treatments require an individual application to ECART, such as for surrogacy and donor embryos.
Privacy is important at Fertility Associates. We have a number of policies in place around the following:
- Collecting and disclosing information
- Medical records
- Quality audits
- Future contact.
Collecting and disclosing information:
We only collect information that’s relevant to the services we provide. If we require extra information, i.e. from a previous fertility provider, your GP, or another health service, we will get your permission first.
We will also ask permission before we pass on information. In our patient registration form we ask if we can:
- send copies of letters to your referring doctor and/or GP
- share information between partners.
However, we may need to give some limited information when we arrange other medical services, such as blood tests or ultrasound scans. For instance, a request for a hormone test may state something like ‘Ectopic pregnancy,’ so the laboratory makes the right interpretation of the result.
- As part of consultation and treatment, you agree that we may disclose relevant personal and health information
- To service providers such as pathology labs, radiographers and allied health professionals.
- Where it is required by regulations, such as to an ethics committee.
- Some consultation and treatment information may be held by associated providers, such the company providing the patient app, Salve. Fertility Associates assesses the security and confidentiality of each provider. Providers such as Salve will also ask for your agreement when you download the app.
Your medical records may be read by external auditors in the process of accreditation and certification of Fertility Associates. The auditors agree to preserve patient confidentiality and privacy. Non-identifying information may be used for analysis and improvement.
We may also provide your name in relation to billing or debt recovery, but we do not disclose what the debt was related to.
The Health Information Privacy Code makes allowance for disclosure of information in exceptional circumstances, when doing so is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to public health or safety – but it is unlikely that this will ever be required with respect to fertility care.
Our staff have a responsibility to respect the confidentiality and sensitivity of any personal information collected about your health – we abide by the Privacy Act 2020 and the Health Information Privacy Code 1994. Only authorised staff have access to your records.
Our staff, contractors and auditors sign a confidentiality agreement, protecting the identity of our patients at all times.
If you are a donor or are using donor sperm, eggs or embryos or surrogacy, we are obliged by law to obtain additional information. This is explained further in our booklet ‘Pathway to a Child’.
If you are a donor whose sperm, eggs or embryos give rise to a pregnancy, or a person who has a pregnancy arising from donated sperm, eggs or embryos or from surrogacy, then we are obliged by law to provide Births, Deaths and Marriages with a particular set of information – this is explained in our patient information packages and our consent forms.
You own your medical information and can ask to see it and correct it at any time. We have a charge to copy your medical records, but we can usually do this for free if you give us a reasonable amount of time.
There are some circumstances under which a health provider can restrict access to medical records, and we would explain such a situation fully if it arises. Although you own your medical information, we own our copy of it (eg. The paper or computer records), and can keep that even after you are no longer a patient at Fertility Associates. We must keep medical information for at least 10 years – stretching to 26 years if treatment results in a child, and 50 years if the child is conceived using donor sperm, eggs or embryos.
Medical records about fertility are more complex than most health records, because they often concern a person and their partner. Generally if a relationship breaks down, then a person can only access the portion of their fertility records that relates to them. For instance, a woman could not access her former partner’s semen analyses without his written consent.
When you attend with a partner, we will treat you as a couple. You will have a joint medical file, which means you will both have access to health information about your treatment. Some information from your health records may be used to compile statistics (such as the proportion of people with infertility), but this information will always be anonymous.
If you or the clinic need a copy of your records that are held by another doctor, you will be asked to give your permission in writing. The clinic in turn will only pass on information to other doctors if you request this in writing.
Communication with you and your general practitioner or specialist
After each consultation your Fertility Associates doctor will usually write a letter to your general practitioner or specialist – generally the person who referred you to us. This will outline your consultation and any recommendations for further investigations, treatment options, or management of your situation. If you have just
had treatment we will tell your GP/specialist how the treatment went. If you do not want any information sent to your GP or specialist, please inform us and we will not send letters to them.
A copy of the letter is usually sent to you too. If you are unclear about what is said in the letter or if the management plan is not clear, please ask the Fertility Associates staff to explain.
We have put in rigorous steps to try to keep your medical information secure and intact, ranging from computer firewalls to checking letters before they go into envelopes, and we regularly audit our systems. However, we know that lapses can occasionally happen despite best intents and efforts. If you receive any information that is not yours, please notify us immediately. We will try to find the root cause of any breach to prevent it happening again.
What the law says:
Fertility treatment in New Zealand is covered by the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology (HART) Act 2004 and its amendments. We will only cover general aspects here – if you wish to know more, particularly regarding sperm, egg, and embryo donation and surrogacy, please see the ‘More helpful information’ section at the bottom of this page.
- The HART Act applies to all treatments where sperm, eggs and embryos are used outside the body, or stored for treatment.
- Sperm, eggs, embryos, ovarian tissue and testicular tissue can be stored for a maximum of 10 years. If frozen sperm or eggs are used to create an embryo, the expiry is 10 years from the date the eggs or sperm were frozen. We can help you apply to the ethics committee if you want to extend storage.
- Other legislation includes the Privacy Act 2020 and the Health Information Privacy Code 1994, which ensure we only collect information that is relevant for diagnosis and treatment. We take great care in keeping your medical records private and confidential. We also ask you to respect the privacy of others you may see at the clinic.
Health and wellbeing of women and children:
In our registration form, we ask you to disclose all information that may be relevant to your health and wellbeing or to that of a child who could be born from treatment. Keeping your health and wellbeing in mind is part of our job, and staff may share relevant information with your doctor. In doing so they would keep details confidential, so you can be assured of your privacy. If we have any concerns, we will raise them with you.
If you want to know what health information is held by Fertility Associates, or to check the accuracy of your records, you may access this by writing to the Clinic Manager or by calling our reception team.
We may ask your permission to obtain further information from your GP or another health provider. Sometimes we might suggest extra help from outside Fertility Associates – for instance seeing an obstetric physician or a social worker. If we feel our concerns cannot be adequately addressed with extra help, we may decline treatment or a service, although this rarely happens. We have a formal process for declining treatment and we would keep you well informed throughout the process.
Fertility Associates is committed to ensuring you know what will happen before any examination or treatment is carried out and that you understand what is involved.
We have written information available about all treatments in our magazine “Pathway to a Child”, our Fertility Fact Sheets, and here on our website. If you would like more information about a particular treatment, please ask one of our team.
You will be asked to give your consent before any examination or treatment – usually verbal consent is sufficient for an examination, but you will be asked to sign a consent form for most treatments and any operations.
The consent form specifies what is going to be done, makes sure that you are properly informed, and records the decisions you have made about your treatment. It will be checked and witnessed by one of the staff members looking after you. Completion of the consent form is an important part of the process and is always required before you start treatment.
If you have any questions about signing the consent form, please ask a member of the clinical team looking after you – your doctor, nurse, embryologist or counsellor.
Changing your mind:
You can always change your mind at any point during the treatment.
We will provide you with a copy of each consent form you complete. You will not jeopardise your eligibility for other types of treatment if you change your mind, or decide not to choose a particular type of treatment or investigation because you feel it is not right for you.
Your rights and responsibilities as a patient:
In New Zealand there is a Code of Rights that every consumer of a Health and Disability Service is entitled to expect from their service provider. Fertility Associates abides by this code. We have summarised what you can expect from us, and in turn, what we expect from you.
As a patient you are entitled:
- To receive competent, considerate and confidential care in a respectful, culturally acceptable manner.
- To know the names and designations of the people involved with your care.
- To be given information about your condition, what treatment can be offered and what is likely to happen.
- To receive enough information to make decisions about your treatment and care to enable informed consent.
- To have access to interpreters where appropriate.
- To give or withhold consent for any treatment, operation or anaesthetic after being given information about the advantages and risks.
- To ask for the opinion of a second doctor if you feel the need.
- To be interviewed in private.
- To receive services that are safe and meet acceptable standards of quality.
- To provide feedback or make a complaint, and have access to an independent advocacy service.
- To be asked for your consent before taking part in any teaching or research programme.
Your responsibility as a patient:
- To tell our staff if you do not understand the information you have been given about your care or treatment.
- To tell the doctor of any changes in your health or wellbeing.
- To show consideration for other patients and to our staff.
- To respect the privacy and confidentiality of other patients you might see in our clinics.
- To ask our staff for help when you have any questions or concerns.
- To co-operate to the best of your ability in the treatment or course of care you have chosen.
Our consent forms for treatment ask whether we can contact you in the future to see if you are interested in taking part in research. About 80% of people agree to this, for which we are very thankful. This has been extremely valuable for following up on the health of children born after fertility treatment.
If you do not agree to follow-up for research, we would only contact you if it was about a matter which could affect your or your children’s health or well-being.