Royal Women's Hospital has warned that it is a breach of trust if the court orders to release a woman's medical records as this undermine the trust between a doctor and a patient. The hospital said that it would do everything in our power' to maintain the privacy of the woman who had an abortion at 32 weeks' pregnancy. She plans to take the case to the High Court after the Court of Appeal ordered that the woman's files be released to the Medical Practitioners Board.
Three judges dismissed the hospital's appeal against a Supreme Court ruling. A doctor who performed the procedure went to the extent of asking the Victorian Health Minister Bronwyn Pike to launch an inquiry into the failure of the process. This is because the case has been dragged for many years. The woman, known as Mrs X, had the procedure six years ago after learning the foetus may have dwarfism. The Medical Practitioners Board after investigating the case said that it was only investigating the professional conduct of the relevant medical practitioners and would continue to protect the patient's privacy.
AdvertisementRoyal Women's Hospital chief executive Dale Fisher said that this would affect women's confidence in the system and undermines the fundamental principle of patient privacy. In a 65-page judgement, the Court of Appeal said the woman requested an abortion after ultrasound tests showed the foetus had skeletal dysplasia, commonly known as dwarfism. Senator McGauran in 2002 requested an investigation into this matter. After a preliminary investigation a search warrant for the records was obtained. Victoria's Chief Justice, Justice Marilyn Warren, the appeal court president, Justice Chris Maxwell, and Justice Stephen Charles rejected the hospital's appeal and asked for the production of the records.
Justice Maxwell called for a strict secrecy regime under the Medical practice act which governed the board's investigative powers. Health Services Commissioner Beth Wilson said that the court order may lead to women considering alternatives to have an abortion if they thought there were a chance their health records would be released. The complaint did not come from the patient, it came from a politician with a minority political agenda and she was very sad to think that this sorry saga is going to continue and cause distress to many people. The end result of would be likely that the Victorian women will lose confidence in their ability to access important health services.