Wednesday 29 March 2017

'Records of patient were deliberately removed'

Despite Mr Tyndall's concerns, the matter was not referred to the gardaí by the HSE
Despite Mr Tyndall's concerns, the matter was not referred to the gardaí by the HSE
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A patient's medical records may have been "deliberately removed" from his file after relatives raised concerns about the standard of his care, according to the Information Commissioner.

The commissioner, Peter Tyndall, said three pages of medical notes "went missing" from the patient's file at St John's Hospital in Sligo after his niece sought access to them under the Freedom of Information Act.

"It appears to me that the situation we are dealing with is one of possible wilful removal of records from a patient's file," he said.

"I consider the possibility that records, which were the subject of an FOI request, were deliberately removed to be a very serious matter."

Despite Mr Tyndall's concerns, the matter was not referred to the gardaí by the HSE.

The woman, acting on her uncle's behalf, sought access to his medical records in January 2013. She was later told no clinical medical records could be found for certain dates.

The dates involved, six days in November 2012, happened to be the same period over which the family had concerns.

Details of the case were outlined in the 2014 Annual Report of the Office of the Information Commissioner, which was published yesterday.

Following an investigation, it was established that the missing notes had been brought to meetings between hospital staff and the man's niece on December 17, 2012 and January 14, 2013, but were not used at either meeting.

An internal HSE review was unable to pinpoint what had happened to the notes.

Evidence

The HSE said it had not been able to establish "any prima facia case to warrant a disciplinary investigation".

Health officials also said that gardaí would not be called "in the absence of evidence of a crime".

Separately, Mr Tyndall said he had to exercise his powers to enter the premises of the Irish Greyhound Board to search for records which had been the subject of "repeated requests".

He said "disorganisation and a lack of proper records management was the principal reason" for the board failing to release the records in the normal manner.

Irish Independent

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