Concern mounts after patients’ medical files dumped in building

Giyani – Tons of boxes of patients’ medical files have been dumped in an old building which used to be the Nkhensani Hospital in Giyani in Limpopo.

The Limpopo branch of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) said this was a violation of a patient’s right to confidentiality. The files have been dumped where the local community can easily have access to and lay their hands on them.
This could have a negative impact on the lives of patients who put their trust in the Department of Health when they divulged their personal and confidential medical information.

TAC provincial manager Moses Makhomisani said his organisation was worried as the files appeared to have been dumped in the building for long enough for curious community members to have already paged through some of the files.

“It seems that some of the files have been kept in there long enough for us to believe that people may already have had the access to them. The building was left abandoned and is now being used by people walking past as a toilet area,” said Makhomisani.

Patient confidentiality is enshrined in law as the National Health Act of 2003 makes it an offence to disclose a patient’s information without their consent, except in certain circumstances. Patients have the right to expect that their information will be held in confidence by healthcare practitioners with patient confidentiality guaranteed.

“What we have come across has raised serious concerns over gross violation of the Act. Whoever took the decision to have the files dumped should be charged urgently. Imagine, a person has a chronic condition that he or she has not disclosed and now because another community member has come across their dumped file, that information becomes public. Imagine how it can negatively affect that person for the rest of their life,” he said.

Makhomisani added that the TAC was calling on Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba to investigate the matter urgently and take action against those responsible for the mass dumping of medical files.

“This matter should be taken as urgent because people’s lives might be negatively affected by this act and those who are behind this must be charged,” he added.

Health Department spokesperson Neil Shikwambana said that the department was not aware of the incident but would be investigating.

“People from the hospital will be going there to establish the facts,” he said.

Source: IOL News