Access to Health Records Act (AHRA) for Deceased Patients
As of Monday 1 August 2022, deceased patient records NO LONGER need to be printed and sent to PCSE however, GP practices are required to respond to Access to Health Records Act (AHRA) requests for individuals who have passed away.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The ethical obligation to respect a patient’s confidentiality extends beyond them passing away. The Access to Health Records Act (AHRA) 1990 provides certain individuals with a right of access to the health records of a deceased individual. These individuals are defined under Section 3(1)(f) of that Act as:
- the patient’s personal representative (a personal representative is the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate).
- any person who may have a claim arising out of the patient’s death.
The personal representative is the only person who has an unqualified right of access to a deceased patient’s record and need give no reason for applying for access to a record. Individuals other than the personal representative have a legal right of access under the Act only where they can establish a claim arising from a patient’s death.
ALL applicants will need to provide some documents to be able to access the records and only information directly relevant to a claim will be disclosed.
The information provided from the GP Practice medical records for patients who have passed away should include information about:
- previous illnesses
- test results
- hospital discharge summaries
- appointment letters
- referral letters
As the GP Practices remains responsible for the AHRA request, they will need to contact PCSE if the paper records have already been returned. This can be requested by using the Contact Us form and selecting Subject Access Request and then ‘Information Services Request’.
PCSE will process the Access to Health Records request if:
- the deceased patient was unregistered at time of death or
- the last registered GP Practice has now closed
The following article on the PCSE website provides full details and answers various common questions.