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Ethical system needed for patient records

Ethical system needed for patient records - Kedgley

11 November 2001

Green Women's Affairs spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today that the medical profession should sort out ethical arrangements to deal with patient records in the event that a doctor is struck off the medical register.

Ms Kedgley said she was very disturbed by reports that convicted rapist Morgan Fahey had had medical notes on patients in his jail cell, after he had been convicted of sex crimes against 11 women, including the rape of a seven-month pregnant woman.

"I am also disturbed by the comments of the Chair of the New Zealand Medical Association Ethics Committee Dr Keith Gibb, who was reported as saying on Friday: "Legally the notes are his property. Even ethically, I wouldn't have thought he'd have to discard, destroy or get rid of the notes just because he's no longer able to practise."

Ms Kedgley said Dr Gibb's comments called into question his judgement and competency to head the committee responsible for overseeing medical ethics.

"Ethics is all about judgement. Dr Gibb seems to lack judgement or any real understanding of ethical issues and I really have to question whether he's up to the job."

Ms Kedgley said patients who had been abused in such a terrible way by a doctor in a trusted position should be able to feel safe that he had no further hold over them.

"It seems obvious that once a doctor has betrayed the trust of his patients, he should no longer be in a position to access medical or other information about them."

"There seems to be confusion and disagreement in the medical profession over whether Fahey should have been able to hold onto patient's notes.

"On the one hand, Dr Gibb seems to be saying it's fine and dandy for Fahey to have these notes, despite his abuse of the doctor-patient relationship and his convictions for rape and sexual violation.

"On the other hand, New Zealand Medical Association chairman John Adams said Fahey should never have had access to the notes after his conviction.

"The medical profession needs to sort out a way to deal with access to patient records in this type of case, so patients can feel secure that their interests and feelings are being looked after."

ENDS


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