This is the second article on this new initiative that will affect all health care providers. In our last article we discussed the PCEHR, who controls it, what it looks like and what are the potential benefits and downfalls.
In this article we are looking at the medico-legal implications that may arise from the use of a PCEHR. Like anything new, it is likely that medico-legal issues will only become apparent once the PCEHR is in use.
In the event that a medical provider does not wish to opt into the system it is, in our view, incumbent on that provider to at least understand the PCEHR enough to be able to discuss with patients, in a balanced way, what the PCEHR is about.
Some of the key medico-legal issues which may arise include:
- Disputes over what information is agreed by the consumer and the nominated health provider to go on a consumer’s PCEHR Health Summary
- Privacy and consent issues:
Duty of care to keep the health summary up to date – who’s duty is this? What part does the nominated provider play? What part does the consumer play?Who is responsible for the quality and content of any records that the nominated provider uploads onto the PCEHR? The loading of a record onto the PCEHR does not relieve nominated providers of their obligation to maintain their usual clinical record nor does it relieve them of other obligations such as communicating health information to the consumer or other medical providers where required.
- Who other than the nominated provider and the consumer can have access to the PCEHR?
- Does the nominated provider have access to the PCEHR if the consumer is not present?
- When can a person holding a Power of Attorney access the information in a PCEHR?
- Can a parent create (a PCEHR) for a child?
- At what age can a child deny a parent access to a PCEHR?
There are many potential legal issues that may arise. Some of these are not new and already arise in your existing practice. Other issues will arise by virtue of the shared access to the record and ambiguity relating to responsibility for the accuracy of the information. One thing is certain, maintaining your own detailed clinical records will continue to be vitally important.
Please call the Claims Department at MIGA if you have any queries about the PCEHR and we would be very happy to assist you.
By: Victoria Webster
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