THE question of who owns the personal medical records held by medical practices has recently surfaced, following the resignation of doctors from a local practice, which was, it seems, acquired by a medical organisation.
My wife and I faced these problems recently when we visited our doctor of some 24 years after he and his colleagues established a new practice.
This whole issue of property ownership reeks of commercial intervention in an area of extreme sensitivity, and blemishes my vision of the medical profession as one concerned primarily with the welfare of patients.
Our medical records covering a period of 24 years, and involving the same doctor, are the property of some organisation of whom we know nothing, and we can receive copies only for our doctor providing we pay for these.
I, in my innocence, would expect medical records to follow the patient. I would pose the following questions:
Each visit to the doctor incurs a fee, which is paid through or by the patient, to the practice for whom the doctor is operating.
Since this is a service requested and paid for, then why cannot the “receipt” or report on “services provided” become the property of the client, albeit held elsewhere, as would be the case with any other business transaction?
If a patient can receive copies only, at the discretion of the organisation, what assurances can be given that these are true and complete in every way?
A friend was astonished to learn that the copies of his records made no mention of his prostate cancer.
What will the “owners” of these very personal and often sensitive personal records do with the originals; what guarantee of confidentiality does the subject of these records have, and to whom would restricted access to the records be granted?
This whole affair leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, but I am certain that both my wife and I will continue to enjoy the very professional, kind, and understanding service of our doctor and his colleagues as long as possible.