ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) has ruled that citizens can obtain information about their medical treatment from any hospital through Pakistan Medical Commission under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.
In a detailed verdict issued on an appeal of Ms. Nadia Naeem, PIC directed the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) to ensure the provision of the medical record from a private hospital requested by the appellant within three working days.
The six-page order authored by the Chief Information Commissioner, Mohammad Azam states; any record that can be submitted to a regulatory body or the regulatory body is empowered to get access to the record/information for the purposes of this Act and can be shared with the applicants/appellants if warranted by the provisions of the Act. The record requested in the instant appeal is a matter of public importance as it belongs to the life of a citizen and the quality of healthcare services provided to citizens.
The appellant has the fundamental human right to have access to information held by the hospital. As such, the PMC is required to use its powers to ensure that requested information is provided to the appellant at the earliest, reads the PIC verdict.
The commission also holds that the patient has also the right of access to all information/records available with the hospital about the patient, including opinions of the medical staff/doctors.
PIC also directed the PMC to notify Public Information Officer, (PIO), under Section 9 of the Act, but the contact details of the PIO on its web sites and also make sure they proactively share through the web site all categories of information mentioned in Section 5 of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 and submit the compliance report to the commission by August 07, 2021.
It is pertinent to mention that the appellant Ms. Nadia Naeem had requested her medical treatment record from a private hospital in Islamabad through Pakistan Medical Commission. When she did not receive the requested record, she filed an appeal before the Pakistan Information Commission in November 2019.
In response to a notice of the PIC, the PMC stated that the Pakistan Medical Commission is under obligation only to provide a record that falls under the domain of public record and is in the custody of the Commission, and the Commission cannot take the responsibility of any record or provides any information which is not in the custody of Commission.
After the long proceeding for one and a half years, the commission announced a verdict on July 15, 2021, and directed the PMC to make sure the provision of the record to the appellant.