Rights of Patient VindicatedThe Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes, today welcomed the resolution of a long running investigation which his Office has conducted in relation to a patient’s right under Data Protection legislation to access their medical records held in a medical facility in Carlow.
Speaking today, the Commissioner indicated that he was “very satisfied with the outcome which has ensured that the patient in question will now receive access to their full medical records.” Furthermore he added that “the case was significant for my Office as we used our full legislative powers to compel the provision of the records in question when the medical facility had repeatedly refused to do so.”
What makes this case all the more acute is that it relates to sensitive medical information which a patient has a right to access except in certain very limited circumstances and, additionally, the patient in question was a minor.
He highlighted that “this is a perfect example of where the effectiveness of Data Protection legislation is demonstrated as it allows for members of the public, regardless of their status or access to legal advice, to request information for a maximum of €6.35 and receive it. If they do not receive the information they have sought they can complain to my Office at no cost and we will follow it up.” ENDS
Note to editors: The Data Protection Acts 1988 & 2003 grant a right of access to all persons in relation to any personal information which any legal entity, body or institution is holding in relation to them. Following a request and the payment of a €6.35 fee the entity must provide the information requested, except in certain narrowly defined circumstances, within 40 days. If the information is not provided within this period or the person is unhappy that they did not receive all of their information they can complain at no cost to the Data Protection Commissioner who can follow-up the case of their behalf. Depending on the circumstances and following an investigation, the Commissioner may force the entity to supply the information requested.
This may be done via a statutory Enforcement Notice which requires the entity to supply the information specified within a stated period of time, usually 21 days. Failure to comply with the Notice is an immediate offence liable to a fine on summary prosecution in the District Court of €3,000. The party on whom it is served may appeal the terms of the Notice to the Circuit Court if considered necessary. This must be done within the stated period.
In this particular case, the party chose to appeal the terms of the Enforcement Notice to the Carlow Circuit Court, but just days before the case was to be heard withdrew the appeal and agreed to supply the information sought.
For further information contact Tony Delaney, Assistant Commissioner at 05786 84800.
Office of the Data Protection Commissioner
Telephone 05786 84800