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Doctors Warned About Refusing To Turn Over Medical Record to Lawyers

Published:Wednesday | October 21, 2015 | 8:25 AM

Doctors Warned About Refusing To Turn Over Medical Record to Lawyers

Andre Poyser

Staff Reporter

The Medical Association of Jamaica has moved to sensitise its members about the need to cooperate with lawyers who require medical records and reports or summaries thereof. This comes against the backdrop of several doctors who have refused to produce medical reports and records when requested.

Attorney-at-Law, Anthony Williams has been hosting seminars with the doctors to increase awareness about the issue.

In an interview with The Gleaner he outlined the legal obligation that doctors have in regards to medical reports and records.

"There are issues arising as to whether or not medical records should be disclosed or not disclosed ... they (doctors) have a duty to disclose the medical records by way of a summary, but they have the right to retain the full records," he said.

Williams explained that doctors have been reluctant to hand over summaries of records and reports because of a fear of lawsuits.

"From they smell a lawsuit, they don't want to disclose it, but the fact is it should be disclosed. It is the patient's records and it is not the doctor's data as it concerns the patient," he explained.

Williams however, explained that a doctor who keeps accurate records need not fear a possible lawsuit. He further asserted that doctors who fear releasing patient data are those who have not complied with the medical standards and this, he said, raised a red flag for lawyers.

"If you kept accurate records, if you gave the correct diagnosis, if you treated the patient properly, then why the fear?" Williams asked.

In respect of writing medical reports, Williams has cautioned doctors about ensuring that these are compliant with Rule 32 of the Civil Procedure Rules. This rule implores doctors to address their reports to the Supreme Court and also to ensure that reports are independent.

Another legal matter for which Williams had a caution for doctors was in the area of doctors who are called to court to give evidence for or against their colleague doctors.

"There are times when doctors will be called to give evidence either in support of or against their colleagues and we stress the need for honesty. Don't give evidence or write any report solely on the basis of suiting your colleague, and there have been instances where doctors have come and give the evidence where the evidence is at variance with their findings...cases where the doctors were clearly lying," he said.