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Trust wants patient to pay for medical record
9:50pm Thursday 8th November 2012 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.