Thu, Nov 23, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Hospitals ignore medical record rules, survey says

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Liu Mei-chun of the Health Reform Foundation uses a giant hammer yesterday to symbolically smash the various administrative obstacles used by some hospitals to keep patients from getting their medical records on request.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Approximately 70 percent of hospitals in the country do not comply with rules set by the Department of Health regarding the provision of medical record copies to their patients, with many hospitals overcharging patients for the service and some even refusing to provide the service, according to the results of a survey released yesterday.

The survey was conducted by the Taiwan Health Reform Foundation between July and this month on 437 medical centers, regional hospitals and district hospitals.

Chang Ly-yun (張苙雲), chairwoman of the foundation, said that although the department established a set of pricing principles and procedures guiding the processing of patients' applications for copies of their medical record two years ago, her group continues to receive complaints from people about the problems they face in obtaining copies.

The survey shows that requests by patients for copies require the consent of doctors at 66 percent of medical centers, 71 percent of regional hospitals and 67 percent of district hospitals.

Thirty-six district hospitals do not provide copies for patients, and the superintendents' consent is required at another 11 district hospitals, the survey indicates.

While the department has forbidden hospitals from charging patients a fee for copies of their medical records, the survey found that 74 percent of medical centers, 54 percent of regional hospitals and 66 percent of district hospitals require patients to register before filing their requests.

Although the rules stipulate that the fee for one copy of a medical record must not exceed NT$5, many hospitals charge patients NT$100 or NT$200 per copy, and some even charge patients as much as NT$2,000 per copy, the survey found.

The foundation said that the Medical Services Act (醫療法) states that medical institutions can be fined up to NT$50,000 for delaying or rejecting patients' requests for medical record copies.

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