Feeds

Dead woman's medical records case could undermine FOI law

Privacy boffin weighs in on legal grey area

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

A dead woman's medical records should not be released because a duty of confidentiality survives her death, the Information Tribunal has ruled. The decision backs an earlier ruling by the Information Commissioner.

A privacy specialist, though, has said the decision defines exemptions to Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation too widely, and was reached because there is no cohesive body of law relating to the rights of dead people.

The tribunal had to make the decision about whether the duty of confidentiality could survive a person's death despite admitting there was no case law or legal authority on which to base its decision.

A witness in the proceedings from the General Medical Council said it had a policy stating that there could be moral, ethical, or professional duties compelling a doctor to maintain confidentiality after a patient's death, but confirmed there was no legal obligation to do so.

The tribunal heard that if the duty of confidence did not survive a patient it could undermine the relationship of trust between doctors and patients. It was compared in the hearing to legal professional privilege.

The tribunal ruled that the duty of confidence between the patient and the doctor must survive her death. "We agree with the [hospital] trust and the Information Commissioner that, as a matter of principle, the basis of the duty in respect of private information lies in conscience," said the ruling.

The case concerned Karen Davies, who died at Epsom General Hospital in 1998 at the age of 33. In 2003 it emerged that the hospital had admitted liability in Davies' death and paid a substantial compensation settlement to her widower Richard Davies on behalf of himself and the couple's two children.

Karen Davies's mother Pauline Bluck has since sought access to Davies's medical records to establish what happened. The hospital refused to release them without the permission of her next of kin, Richard Davies, who refused permission.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.