Healthcare providers can now gain access to millions of medical records for coronavirus triage
This week, the GP medical file of millions of Dutch people will become accessible to thousands of healthcare providers without the patient's permission, warned privacy watchdogs Privacy First, the Humanistisch Verbond, and Stichting KDVP, NRC reports
In the fight against Covid-19, Minister Martin van Rijn for Medical Care implemented a temporary regulation that allows doctors at a GP or first aid post to access at a coronavirus patient's GP file without the patient's explicit consent. This is to improve the triage - the consideration of whether patients should go to the hospital or can recover at home. With coronavirus patients it is very important to know if they have other conditions or are taking medication, and they are not always able to speak.
About eight million people in the Netherlands previously gave permission for their medical data to be accessed, about a million people explicitly denied access, and the other 8 million Dutch have not made a decision one way or the other - which means that they have not given consent for their files to be viewed.
The Dutch data protection authority AP warned that this access is only allowable if the patient gives consent, even if it is only verbal consent. But according to the privacy organizations, verbal consent means very little because the LSP - the system that unlocks medical files - can't tell whether a patient gave verbal consent or not.
AP said in a response that it will keep a close eye out for abuse. "Every request is recorded automatically. We will check afterwards whether only authorized medical personnel conducted targeted searches," a spokesperson said to NRC. The Ministry of Health told the newspaper that "only a limited, authorized group of healthcare providers" can access these files, and citizens can see if their files were viewed via Volgjezorg.nl.