The National Department of Health has denied there was an unlawful and unethical breach of patient confidentially in the sharing of patient medical records to third parties without the patients’ consent.
The National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) has opened itself up to legal claims by affected patients.
The public health service that provides laboratory and related public health services to national and provincial healthcare departments has been accused of sharing records with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which were appointed to ensure patients stick to their treatment regimes.
The details are contained in a legal opinion obtained by the National Health Laboratory Services' legal services manager in July last year.
Denying any wrongdoing the department of health says it had further legal opinion from senior counsel, which found the practice to be above board.
EWN Reporter Barry Bateman has more on the story.
What was happening is that there were certain NGOs who were contracted by the health department to provide support at the clinical level down within the rural areas for patients for example who have got HIV to ensure that they adhere to their treatment regime, it obviously sounds good on the face of it but there are legal implications of this.— Barry Bateman, Reporter - EWN
The health department is saying no, there was actually another legal opinion sought through senior counsel who also happens to be a medical doctor and this particular individual found this practice to be lawful and ethical.— Barry Bateman, Reporter - EWN
However my sources within the NHLS tells me that there is no second opinion and there has been no other finding that this practice has been lawful and ethical.— Barry Bateman, Reporter - EWN
There is the other prospect that it is alleged that the company or organisations benefiting from this free data are the same organisations who are benefiting from this free data are the same organisations obtaining contracts with the health department.— Barry Bateman, Reporter - EWN
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