As previously discussed on this blog, when a client wishes to investigate a personal injury claim*, their medical records are a key element in building a case. Individuals are entitled to access their personal medical records and can do so in a number of ways. The most usual methods to access records are as follows:
By administrative access for records
Under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003
Under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003.
Via a court order for ‘Discovery’ in legal proceedings
The above methods have been discussed in detail in a previous blog by the author and can be accessed via http://www.cantillons.com/blog/item/HOW-DO-I-GET-ACCESS-TO-MY-MEDICAL-RECORDS-quest-/47
The purpose of this blog is to provide template letters as a guide for methods 1-3 above in order to assist individuals in requesting their medical records. You will see from each of the templates posted below that a certain amount of personal information needs to be filled in by each individual in order to allow the relevant medical authority to accurately identify the correct records. The information furnished should include your full name, your previous/current addresses, your date of birth, the time period that you were under their services and the relevant doctors or departments (if that information is available).
Proof of identity is also an essential requirement in this process as it protects each individual’s right to confidentiality by ensuring that the correct records are furnished to the correct patient. Therefore, it is essential that you include identification in your request for medical records, such as a copy of your passport or driving licence. You should also include a utility bill (e.g. a phone bill).
It is often the case that medical authorities will not only hold medical records in paper format. Records can also be held electronically i.e. radiology images on discs, videos of procedures carried out etc. Therefore, the body of each template states that your request is not confined to paper documentation and that you require records howsoever held, including electronically stored documentation.
1. Accessing Medical Records Administratively
This simply means that one is seeking the records as a matter of administration without invoking any of the statutory rights which are considered below at points 2 and 3. This can be done by writing to the records department of the relevant hospital or agency. If you wish to make a request for your medical records the following template may be used as a guide:
click here to download
If you are refused access to your medical records administratively, you will have to make an application under the Freedom of Information Acts or Data Protection Acts.
2. Request for Medical Records under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997/2003
The Freedom of Information Acts (FOI Act) provides each individual with a right to access personal information, including medical records, held by public bodies covered by the Act. The FOI Act applies to the Health Service Executive and all voluntary hospitals and health agencies. It does not apply to private hospitals or private healthcare facilities. The FOI Act applies to records held by GP’s where the patient holds a medical card. The FOI Act does not apply to records held by GP’s regarding private patients. If you wish to make a request for your medical records under the FOI Act, the following template may be used as a guide:
click here to download
3. Request for Medical Records under the Data Protection Acts 1988/2003
Another avenue that can be pursued by a patient seeking access to their medical records is via the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 (DPA). These Acts provide similar rights of access as the FOI Acts but the DPA do not apply to records of deceased persons. This avenue is more appropriate for patients who have been treated privately. If you wish to make a request for your medical records under the DPA Act, the following template may be used as a guide:
click here to download
A party to litigation can seek a Court Order directing a hospital or doctor to discover (furnish) that party’s medical records. Discovery may be made if the records are relevant to the litigation. It is an expensive and costly process.
If you have problems accessing your records or wish to investigate a medical negligence query, contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at +353 (0)21 -4275673 or [email protected] 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.