Trust wants patient to pay for medical record

BILL ANGER: Andrew Brown.

BILL ANGER: Andrew Brown.

First published in News

A PATIENT has been told by hospital bosses that he must pay £2,000 for a copy of an ultrasound scan of his heart after requesting the records more than a year ago.

Andrew Brown, of St John’s, Worcester, asked for a copy of a cardiac ultrasound echocardiogram which was carried out in January 2004 at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Worcester.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has provided Mr Brown with a written copy of the results, but say the data is stored in a different format to that now used by the trust and it does not have the technology to convert it.

The trust says it will happily arrange for the correct computer drive to be bought from America, at a cost of £2,000 plus VAT, which Mr Brown would have to pay.

The 49-year-old first requested a copy of the echocardiogram last July and has written to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about his case.

A complaints resolution case officer replied this month to say that the trust has not complied with the Data Protection Act because it could not provide him with a copy of the ultrasound record.

However, the case officer said the ICO has decided to take no further action and that the trust took its obligations under the act seriously.

Mr Brown said: “I consider it audacious that the trust asks me to pay for hardware to facilitate my medical records request.

“There will be probably thousands of other patients from the era of my echo whose records cannot presently be viewed should a clinician need to look at their cardiac ultrasound or if they needed a copy or even should the trust need to defend itself against litigation.

“It is in the interests of patients that the trust obtains replacement hardware and preferably converts the format to a universal one, not only to meet my request.”

A trust spokesman said: “The trust does have the visual data on file, but the cost of generating an image from what is now obsolete technology is not a cost-effective use of public money.

“We have made inquiries with other trusts in the country to see if they have the facility to download and transfer the data we hold onto a CD, but to no avail.

“In terms of any future treatment, we would base clinical decisions and treatment on diagnostics undertaken as required rather than from historical records.”

Mr Brown has written to Worcester MP Robin Walker and Norman Lamb, minister of state for care services, about his concerns.

Comments (5)

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8:12am Fri 9 Nov 12

mayall8808 says...

Have they still got it? i applied for some old medical records and they told me they could not be found.
It seems when transfering from old files to the new system an awful lot are missing.
Have they still got it? i applied for some old medical records and they told me they could not be found. It seems when transfering from old files to the new system an awful lot are missing. mayall8808
  • Score: 0

2:07pm Fri 9 Nov 12

MrStJohns says...

Yes they have still got it, and have offered the chap above a full written breakdown of the scan. However the data is stored differently and is not compatible with the new system, so for the scan to be reproduced in is original format for this fellow who has decided he would ‘like’ a copy is set to cost £2000. Which in my opinion would be far better spent on someone’s more immanent care, rather than the whim of someone who fancies having a copy of their records.
Yes they have still got it, and have offered the chap above a full written breakdown of the scan. However the data is stored differently and is not compatible with the new system, so for the scan to be reproduced in is original format for this fellow who has decided he would ‘like’ a copy is set to cost £2000. Which in my opinion would be far better spent on someone’s more immanent care, rather than the whim of someone who fancies having a copy of their records. MrStJohns
  • Score: 0

1:45pm Sat 10 Nov 12

worcesterian says...

There are numerous cases around the country where malpractice and incompetence has been
discovered an action successfully taken, only because old medical records were available
in some of these cases it concerns hundreds of individuals at individual hospitals, grave physical and psychological
injury let alone death can result when health care gets it wrong, and so keeping medical records
is an important way by which things can be discovered and dealt with, and indeed it reminds
the clinicians that there is an audit trail behind their decisions and actions.
There are numerous cases around the country where malpractice and incompetence has been discovered an action successfully taken, only because old medical records were available in some of these cases it concerns hundreds of individuals at individual hospitals, grave physical and psychological injury let alone death can result when health care gets it wrong, and so keeping medical records is an important way by which things can be discovered and dealt with, and indeed it reminds the clinicians that there is an audit trail behind their decisions and actions. worcesterian
  • Score: 0

6:41pm Sat 10 Nov 12

New Kid on the Block says...

If the data cannot be read without bringing in a computer drive from America then the Trust might as well not have it.
The data should have been converted into the new format before the old equipment that could read it was disposed of.
This begs the questions how long will the old type of drive be available from America, and how many Trusts in this country are in this situation.
If there are other Trusts in this situation and these records could be needed for clinical purposes perhaps the affected Trusts should club together and buy a drive. The data could then be converted to the current format and stored in an accessible manner.
If the data cannot be read without bringing in a computer drive from America then the Trust might as well not have it. The data should have been converted into the new format before the old equipment that could read it was disposed of. This begs the questions how long will the old type of drive be available from America, and how many Trusts in this country are in this situation. If there are other Trusts in this situation and these records could be needed for clinical purposes perhaps the affected Trusts should club together and buy a drive. The data could then be converted to the current format and stored in an accessible manner. New Kid on the Block
  • Score: 0

8:29pm Sat 10 Nov 12

worcesterian says...

There are plenty of these old drives on the 2nd hand market for a fraction of the £2000 mentioned. They vary in capacity but they are Magnetic Optical 5.25 inch

And when the hardware failed ahem why didnt they arrange for repair ? after all some of the scans would 'only just' have been done . They were always from 'years ago' after all
There are plenty of these old drives on the 2nd hand market for a fraction of the £2000 mentioned. They vary in capacity but they are Magnetic Optical 5.25 inch And when the hardware failed ahem why didnt they arrange for repair ? after all some of the scans would 'only just' have been done . They were always from 'years ago' after all worcesterian
  • Score: 0

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