Major change to impact medical negligence investigations
A change in the way medical records are accessed has paved a major step-forward in the investigation of certain medical negligence cases.
We have all heard about the impact that GDPR has had on the legality by which any of us can store personal data – in fact all our inboxes have been crammed with requests to ‘opt in’!
However, there is one other change that was also introduced on May 25. It may have dipped under the radar of many but is a change that will have a major and positive effect upon thousands of people.
Until now, any person who wanted access to their medical records had to pay up to £50 to receive them – or if it related to a deceased person, a ‘reasonable charge’ was made for the reproduction of the records.
However, under the new Data Protection Act, most charges that were attached to ‘Subject Access Requests’ have now been abolished - giving the individuals themselves, or organisations acting on their behalf, free access. Charges can only be made if a request is ‘manifestly unfounded or excessive’, however, these circumstances are likely to be rare.
It must be noted that if the request is for a medical report (rather than a SAR), this falls under the Access to Medical Reports Act (AMRA) and should be handled in the usual way. The GDPR does not change the AMRA.
This move, says Jonathan Baker, a Senior Solicitor within Wilkin Chapman’s Medical Negligence team, will lead to a major step-forward in the investigation of certain cases.
“From a patient’s perspective, it gives them much greater access to their own records, or indeed, to us in reviewing a case.”
Jonathan went on to explain why: “There have been times when we have been unable to assess the true merits of a case without seeing the records. As a result, we have asked a client to meet the cost of these and an individual may not be able to do so.
“This alleviates that potential barrier and allows us to review the records before deciding on the best course of action,” adds Jonathan.
For any more information in this particular area, please contact Jonathan on 01522 515966.