Patients cannot be denied access to their medical records under RTI

Central Information Commission (CIC): “A patient has a right to his/her medical records which is rooted in Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution and hospital authorities, whether public or private, have a duty to provide the same under Right to Information Act, 2005, Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the Medical Council Act, 1956 and world medical ethics read with constitutional rights”, held CIC while allowing an appeal filed by a former official of Research and Analysis Wing, seeking her medical records from Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences where she was admitted on the orders of Delhi High Court. Earlier, the appellant had made several complaints against her seniors including sexual harassment against which an inquiry was conducted where the charges could not be proved for want of evidence and she was referred to Institute of Human Behavior and Allied Sciences GNCTD by the Delhi High Court, where she was detained for almost a month. When the appellant filed application seeking her medical records before the institute, it denied to provide the said records on the ground that the information sought was exempted under section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act as disclosure would impede the process of investigation. Appellant had alleged before CIC that as she had filed several complaints against her superiors, they had started withdrawing her privileges as an officer and, ultimately, removed her chair too, leaving her with no place to sit. She also alleged a “deliberate conspiracy” and attempt to depict her as mentally sick by her seniors. While observing that the appellant was in dire need of the medical records to tell the world that she was not mentally sick but fit and also for defending her case before the appropriate forum, CIC directed the health research institute to disclose the information sought by the appellant. “The Appellant has right to information and treating institution has a legal duty to give proper information, not to give misleading information and not to resort to unfair trade practices”, CIC noted. (Nisha Priya Bhatia v. Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences, File No.CIC/AD/A/2013/001681SA, decided on July 24, 2014)

To read the full judgment, refer SCCOnLine

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