In 2015, Royal North Shore Hospital conducted an internal audit and external investigation into the record keeping of Royal North Shore Hospital’s former Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic which found no evidence of malicious management of clinical records between 1977 and 1984.
The external investigation found that in this period assisted reproductive treatment clinical practices were in their early phase and there were no formal documented policies or chief legislation regarding sperm donors. It found that at that time, sperm donors were given a guarantee of anonymity.
It also found that while there was no written policy uncovered, it was apparent that the Royal North Shore Hospital’s former Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic did have a formulated approach to record keeping, which included a considered policy of removing donor codes by clinic staff.
These actions preceded the Artificial Conception Act of 1984 and the investigation concluded there were valid reasons for the removal of the sperm donor codes to protect the “good faith agreement” of ensuring the anonymity of sperm donors unconditionally. The permanent removal of these sperm donor codes does prevent the identity of a sperm donor from being identified.
Northern Sydney Local Health District deeply regrets any distress the results of this investigation caused for those who were patients of the former Assisted Reproductive Treatment Clinic, as well as their donor-conceived children.
While we are unable to rectify what has happened, we encourage former clinic patients with concerns about their medical records to contact our Health Information Service to have their record reviewed.
Northern Sydney Local Health District assures former patients that the records will be permanently preserved with a do not destroy date applied to ensure destruction does not occur. In addition, the sperm donor records and donor register, which were uncovered during the investigation and separate to the patient records, will be sent to State Records for secure storage alongside donor recipient files.
Former patients seeking a review of their personal medical records should call the Northern Sydney Local Health District’s Health Information Services team on (02) 9462 9777.
Access to counselling and support services will be provided to anyone affected by how these clinical records were managed, at their request.