Children’s permission required before parents can view their medical records

Jul 12, 2018 by

from Family Education Trust:

Medical practitioners are denying parents access to their children’s health records in the name of preserving the rights of the child to confidentiality. Following the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) at the end of May, many GP surgeries have reviewed their data protection policies and are insisting on securing the consent of children as young as 11 or 12 before they will allow their parents to view their records.

According to updated guidance from the British Medical Association (BMA):

‘Where a child is considered capable of making decisions about access to his or her medical record, the consent of the child must be sought before a parent or other third party can be given access via a SAR [subject access request].’1

The BMA guidance states that, while children under 16 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must demonstrate that they have sufficient understanding of what is proposed in order to be entitled to make or consent to a subject access request, ‘children who are aged 12 or over are generally expected to have the competence to give or withhold their consent to the release of information from their health records’. In Scotland, anyone aged 12 or over is legally presumed to have such competence.

Other BMA guidance on confidentiality and disclosure of health information stresses that ‘every reasonable effort must be made to persuade the child to involve parents or guardians particularly for important or life-changing decisions’. However, it is equally emphatic that the child must have the final word: health professionals should ‘respect the child’s wishes if they do not want parents or guardians to know’.2

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