Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Records of deceased Patients

A guidance document "After the Hundred Year Rule" is available online for Society of Archivist members (www.archives.org.uk) and in hardcopy for £15 for non-SoA members (by emailing sales@dpmedia.co.uk)published by the Society of Archivists on behalf of the Health Archives Group

General comments from the group: "The conclusions we came to about the records of deceased patients were that s.41 (actionable breach of confidentiality) seemed the main exemption that was likely to apply to these records. However there are two issues which are still not clear and will only be resolved in time: a) whether releasing deceased patient information is really an actionable breach of confidence b) how long should the confidentiality last for."

"In the absence of any concrete answer to b), we recommended that generally speaking current best practice be followed, i.e. that Archivists assume a lifetime of 100 years and calculate the duration of s.41 (the closure period, in effect) from the date of birth of the patient (if known). Of course it has to be borne in mind that FOI is flexible and so many decisions will have to be made on a case by case basis"

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