|Doctors feel pressured to hand over patients' medical records|
| [31.08.2007, 12:27am, Fri. GMT]|
|Doctors criticised the social welfare agency NAV for demanding insight into confidential medical records, calling it a breach of patients’ trust and a danger to patient’s safety. NAV denied criticism, claiming that only in exceptional circumstances has the agency asked for full records. Doctors feeling that they betray patients’ confidence by giving out their medical records lashed out against the social welfare agency NAV on Wednesday, claiming that the agency unnecessarily and without reason demands insight into journals that are meant for GP eyes only. GP Sjur Agdesten claimed he "felt pressured" to give out 11 medical records by a NAV representative in mid-August. In hindsight, he regretted that he had handed over the confidential documents."I think this is terrible. What about confidentiality and other rules of the game? We need consent from the patients in order to give out their health records," he told newspaper Aftenposten, adding that he felt that the public agency’s insight into the full records could endanger patients’ safety. |
"People could hold back information necessary for their treatment if they knew that the State without difficulty could get access to that information."
The Norwegian Association of Doctors (Legeforeningen) called NAV’s demands for patient’s full medical records an "increasing problem." President Torunn Janbu pointed out that although NAV is in a position to demand information relevant to decide a social welfare client’s case, doctors should be in charge of the patient’s medical journal. Deciding what information NAV would get, she argued, is up to the doctors.
Whether NAV is really entitled to examine a patients’ full medical records, is unclear, said doctor and professor in public law Aslak Syse, who nonetheless doubted that the social welfare agency could demand the full records. "Under current law it is not likely that NAV can demand full insight," he said. "It is even more unlikely that they can simply show up at a doctor’s office to demand the journals. This is an area of the law that needs to be cleared up immediately."
NAV, however, claimed that they only in exceptional circumstances have demanded full medical records, and that the agency usually specifies why it needs insight into the records. Normally, said director Magne Flatby, the social welfare agency only demands information specifically related to a case.
The 11 patients whose medical records GP Sjur Agdesten gave out a few weeks ago, have now hired a lawyer. "This is in breach of the social services act," claimed lawyer Rune Østgård. "This is an attack on the relationship between a patient and his doctor."
Aftenposten English Web Desk