Medical records are a key element in any investigation, whether it be a personal injuries action arising out of a road traffic accident or a medical negligence action.
In general, individuals are entitled to access their personal medical records and can do this in a number of ways:
1. By administrative access to Health Service Executive records
Accessing your records by administrative access, means you are simply writing directly to the hospital/doctor seeking your records as a matter of administration, and without invoking any statutory rights. You can do this by writing directly to the records department of the hospital. There will usually not be a fee incurred for this. However if the records are voluminous, then there may be a copying fee charged. You will usually need to provide identification and proof of address in advance of being granted your request.
This is the simplest way to access your records, however you may not always be granted access via this method, and in that case you may have to invoke your statutory rights under 2 or 3 below.
2. Under the Freedom of Information Acts 2014
The Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act) gives each individual a right to access personal information, including medical records held by public bodies under the act. The FOI Act applies to the Health Service Executive but does not apply to private hospitals.
To make this request you should apply in writing to the hospital stating you wish you take up a copy of your medical records pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. You should give the hospital as much information about you as you can to enable the hospital to identify your records, i.e. your name, date of birth and address. You will also need to give proof of identification. A copying fee may be applied depending on the volume of records.
3. Under the Data Protection Act 1988 and 2003
If you have been treated in a private hospital, then you will need to request your records pursuant to the Data Protection Acts (DPA). Again, the request for records should be in writing, and you should give as much information as possible about yourself. You will need to give proof of your identification. A fee of €6.35 is payable.
When you get your records it would be advisable to consult a Solicitor* who has an interest in these types of cases.
Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at +353 (0)21 -4275673 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information.
* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement.