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How to obtain a copy, or at least information about the child's health

Thought I might start a post about medical records.

So what do you need to do to get a copy of your child's medical records or information about your child's health.

According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, you can go in and request a copy etc. Easier said than done or so it would appear in the case of separated parents. We all probably know a parent who has not been able to get any information about their child's health, diagnosis, medications prescribed, and certainly some have been led up the proverbial garden path by the other parent as to the health and condition of the child.

So what to do? Apparently you can put your request in writing to the health practitioner, and they should provide it to you, unless of course there is something in there that in the practitioner's experience would be detrimental to your own mental health. Then you should allow an appropriate period of time. But there is nothing stated as to what that is. So, you get strung along. Or the practitioner (and their minions - it's okay I was sort of a minion myself so I can say this) will say that they have to get permission off the other parent before they can release details.

If there are no court orders, then it 'should' be presumed that there is shared parental responsibility. And if there are court orders, well then it will depend on what the court orders say. Hopefully they will say that both parents have shared responsibility. Technically if the practitioner says that the other parent does not give permission for the records to be released, then the other parent should have shown the practitioner documentation that states the sharing of the records is not allowed (and this should be by way of a court order).

Some of these practitioners are just too worried about divulging information. It really should not be this hard.

One way around it is, to go to your regular GP with the child, have them registered with that clinic as a patient, because you never know when you might need to take the child there, and request that your GP request a copy of the records, so that they will not be treating the child contrary to the other treating practitioner.

Any other suggestions?
A very good summary and thanks for taking the time to pen those points.

Getting medical information on children is a fraught process. It relies often on the goodwill of the clinic and medical practitioners so it is important to approach the issue calmly and not like a 'bull at a gate'…

I have had cases where the mothers' partner attends and mascarades as the real father and the medical practitioner 9 times out of 10 wont ask who is that bloke? The mother and new partner / friend get to deal with the medical issues and the real father is simply left out of the loop. This happens a lot. Currently there is no obligation on the parent who is obtaining medical treatments, that directs the parent, to inform the other parent UNLESS there is a court order.

On one occasion I had to write to a very large Sydney based hospital in respect to their policies to mark files 'No information to be released'

Mr X has "Equal Shared Parental Responsibility" until a court says otherwise, and should be treated respectfully, with dignity and provided with every assistance afforded a concerned father in his endeavours to obtain an updated status on his daughter.

As you can see from 'child's name' file notes, 'our clients first name' is a devoted and loving father who is simply interested in his daughter's well-being and keen to be kept informed on her progress through the hospital system he entrusted to take care of 'child's name'.

For your information we are instructed that Mr X was the full time career for 'child's name' for a lengthy period of time having  spent many hours at the hospital previously, and is well known to some of the treating physicians and social workers. (list of names of the treating professionals). These professionals will no longer discuss any matters with our client relating to specific medical treatments that you are providing at the direction of the mother 'mothers name'.

We are perplexed as to the reasons the file is marked "No information to be released" as there has been no advice previously, nor has Mr X consented to such a file note. A parent is entitled to all and every information on their child's treatments and progress unless a court order precludes such information. You should also be aware that the law provides that parents enjoy shared parental responsibility by default and specifically in relation to health matters.

It is unacceptable for the hospital to mark files up in such a way as to restrict a parent from obtaining information about a treatment course or program. It is also unacceptable in doing so not to inform the other parent that you have done so. Our client has spent a considerable amount of time dealing with your clinicians and wasting their time in getting no information about 'name of child' progress and significant treatments.

We would appreciate your assistance, and that of 'name of professional manager' , who was most helpful today in explaining the situation, to clear up this administration error, where the hospital is marking files "No information to be released". It is completely unacceptable for the hospital to act on the instruction of one parents who does not want the other parent to know about treatments being provided….

Our client, and the hundreds of other parents who have had their files so marked, should be immediately able to make enquiries of the appropriate staff and in our view you should advise those parents accordingly.

Another approach is to raise a subpoena on Medicare. You can only do this if a case is underway but it is a good starting point where the other side will not disclose treating physicians.

It will be interesting to see what other sorts of issues and experiences parents have had.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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I found a workaround where you take the child to your Doctor, register them as a patient and then get your Doctor to request the relevant information from the other Doctors

Haha i just Saw Boots posted the same thing… still worth saying twice

Sometimes The Wolf skim reads when tired  :-)

Nothing i say should be taken as legal advice. I am not a Lawyer. If i help you it is of your own free choice to listen to what i say or not. I do not create documents for you. I do not represent you…. Purple Monkey Dishwasher
Thank you Sec SPCA and The Wolf.

It is an issue that we have had to deal with. We had one centre quite happy to send us records, and another not. The one that wasn't so happy wanted us to attend the centre to discuss the request and no doubt at the same time would have charged a long consult to Medicare. A complete waste of time and tax payers' money especially as it was not local to us either.

Another avenue that used to be available, and I am not sure if it still is, was to obtain a Medicare history statement (it also included the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme) which provided details of treating practitioners (as long as it was claimed via Medicare). I have had a look at the Human Services website, and this looks to be the form required but it looks like it does not give information about the provider now. But sometimes, that can give you a bit more information than you might have otherwise received.

I think that this is another area that should be looked at when looking at reforms to Family Law overall, as this is an area of importance when considering that we should be looking after the best interests of the children.
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