Through your journey with cancer you will be faced with a mountain of paper work both medical and other. It is advisable to keep and organise important records. In order to be a responsible patient is it up to you to keep track of your own health information. In the end, keeping detailed records will make life easier for you and your loved ones. By having a quickly accessible set of personal records and information you will save a lot of time, stress and expense in the future.
According to the Health Council Professions of SA (HCPSA), the body that all doctors must be registered with in order to practice, a medical practitioner must provide any person age 16 years and older with a copy or abstract or direct access to his or her own records on request. Where the patient is under the age of 16 years, the parent or legal guardian may make the application for access to the records. In provincial hospitals the records shall be kept under the care and control of the superintendent. Access to such records shall be subject to compliance with the requirements of the Access to Information Act and such conditions as may be approved by the superintendent.
They must not make information available to any third party without the written authorisation of the patient or his or her legal representative.
A medical practitioner or dentist may make available the records to a third party without the written authorisation of the patient or his or her legal representative under the following circumstances:
- Where a medical practitioner is a witness in a legal trial between a patient and another party.
- Where a patient has instituted action in court against a medical practitioner and is ordered to testify on the patient’s medical condition.
- Where a patient sues a medical practitioner and the latter testifies in his or her own defence.
- Where the Medical Professions Board has instituted disciplinary proceedings and the medical practitioner has to answer to a charge or defends him or herself.
- In the event where a patient and their condition becomes known to a medical practitioner and the nature thereof is such that the medical practitioner concerned is of the opinion that the information ought to be divulged, in the interest of the general public.
It is important to remember that:
- Your medical records become important when you transfer to a new doctor or hospital or if, for some reason, your records are lost.
- Keeping records can help you manage all aspects of your medical aid claims, taxes, and other legal matters such as disability insurance and life insurance.
- Once your treatment has ended, you will have easily and quickly accessible and accurate medical records for any doctor treating you, in future.
- If you have a reoccurrence details of your original treatment can help your healthcare practitioner, new or old, make decision on how to treat you.
- For survivors of childhood cancer, having records are important as it provides important information that may be needed later in life.
Information provided by Campaigning for Cancer
- (Health24, December 2011)