Hospitals to provide patient records within 72 hours

There have been numerous cases in the past where patients have complained that hospitals have been lax in handing over their medical records to them. Hospitals have used this delay as a deterring factor if the patient wants to move to another hospital. In cases where there is a dispute between the patient and the hospital, the patient typically feels that the hospital also uses such delays to get the time to doctor the records. In order to provide the patient with their complete set of medical records fast, the National Consumer Court passed a directive that henceforth hospitals will have to provide either the patient or the authorized representative of the patient, their complete medical records within 72 hours of receiving a request for such records. This judgment is bound to provide relief to patients who would otherwise struggle with trying to get such records from the hospital:

MUMBAI: In a landmark order, the national consumer disputes redressal commission has made it mandatory for all medical practitioners and hospitals across the country to provide the entire medical records of a patient to him\her or the authorised nominee or legal authorities concerned within 72 hours of the demand.

Simultaneously, the commission asked the Medical Council of India to promulgate a comprehensive notification. Accordingly, a week ago, the MCI directed medical practitioners and hospitals to provide the medical records of a patient within three days of the request. “In any set of circumstances, hospitals\medical practitioners shall hand over the medical records of the patient to him or his relatives within 72 hours,” the MCI said in its circular.

This is an excellent judgment, and will go a long way in making sure that the relationship between the doctor and the patient remains smooth, and does not clouded with extraneous factors. Once the patient realizes that the records are easily available and that the hospital is duty bound to provide them, they will start asserting their rights and no longer be fearful that the hospital will try to delay things if they want to change hospitals.

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