Health information - providing a summary of a deceased parent’s medical conditions to an adult child
A and Queensland Health
The applicant sought access to his late mother’s health care records in two separate FOI requests for records held by the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and the Prince Charles Hospital. Queensland Health responded to both applications by refusing access to the records on the basis that the disclosure of the records would prejudice his late mother’s privacy interests and that this would be contrary to the public interest.
On external review, the applicant indicated that he sought access to his late mother’s health care records to establish whether his mother had a genetic mental health condition. He had been separated from his mother from a young age due to her mental health condition and was never given an opportunity to speak to his mother about her health.
Early resolution of these reviews occurred when Queensland Health provided the applicant with the information he sought without disclosing the entirety of his mother’s medical records. The applicant received two letters from senior medical officers of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and the Prince Charles Hospital which summarised the various psychiatric diagnoses given to the applicant’s mother, the symptoms of these diagnoses and the treatment administered.
This was a matter in which the applicant acknowledged that he did not require access to his mother’s health records but required confirmation from her health care providers that his mother’s condition would not affect his own health. Queensland Health recognised the public interest in the applicant knowing particular details in relation to his mother’s healthcare and provided the applicant with a summary of the relevant information. Knowledge of an applicant’s reasons for wanting access to records can change the balancing of different public interests. An applicant can sometimes be provided with the information sought without disclosing documents.