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20. Medical Records


Medical records, physical and mental health, remain confidential after death and coroners are only entitled to request medical information that is relevant and necessary to their enquiries. It is not clear whether post mortem and special examination reports are part of a medical record, but they are generally not regarded as such.  


The Access to Health Records Act 1990   gives parents and next of kin, or their personal representative, the right to have copies of the medical records of a child or adult who has died. Hospitals or doctors must supply the copies within 21 or 40 days from the date of your application, depending on how recent the record is. You can only be charged for the cost of making the copies and by applying for the records yourself, you will avoid being charged for a solicitor’s time in making the application for you.


You do not have to wait until an inquest is completed and you should make the application as soon as possible. There may be reluctance to provide the records, or delay in doing so and when you do get them, you should check carefully for date continuity and possible amendments.


The Patients Association publishes a guide “How to obtain access to your Medical Records”. If you find it difficult to make an application, the Patients Association (Section 26 and 28) or Citizens Advice Bureau (Section 28) can help you.







13     Not applicable to Northern Ireland, but The Access to Health Records (NI)

        Order 1993 makes similar provision for a personal representative to

        access the medical records of a person who has died.


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