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Man Charged £2,000 For Medical Records Stored On Obsolete System

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the boy-that-costs-a-ton dept.

Medicine 368

An anonymous reader writes "In Britain, where it is custom and practice to charge around £10 for a copy of your medical results, a patient has discovered that his copy will cost him £2,000 because the records are stored on an obsolete system that the current IT systems cannot access. Can this be good for patient care if no-one can access records dating back from a previous filing system? Perhaps we need to require all current systems to store data in a way that is vendor independent, and DRM-free, too?"

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Just store it in the cloud (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912199)

That'll fix all the issues. London has fog, too, so the clouds are even easier to access.

Re:Just store it in the cloud (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912249)

Will the fish that live in the fog eat this data?

Re:Just store it in the cloud (2)

sconeu (64226) | about 2 years ago | (#41912437)

Only the sharks.

Re:Just store it in the cloud (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 years ago | (#41912557)

Still less dangerous than dinosaurs on a spaceship.

Oh crap, where did I leave my towel?

What a fuckup (5, Insightful)

nighthawk243 (2557486) | about 2 years ago | (#41912227)

Who the hell decided to not do the format conversion when they phased out the old system?

Re:What a fuckup (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41912341)

Accountants.
At least, if it's like any other large conversion I have been through.

Re:What a fuckup (3)

Kingkaid (2751527) | about 2 years ago | (#41912367)

It is amazingly common to have this kind of thing happen. Healthcare is always strapped for cash and they probabily look at the cost of conversion and someone freaked out. To them it made more sense to keep the old equipment with its old data around in case it needed to be accessed. Over time, everyone forgets how it works and then someone actually needs to access it. And ta-da. Money is a very powerful motivator and to be blunt, the healthcare system in nearly ALL places is so technologically behind, it isn't funny.

Re:What a fuckup (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41912487)

Healthcare is always strapped for cash...

Huh, must be a British thing.

Re:What a fuckup (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912621)

An unfortunate sideaffect of the publicly funded NHS.

The NHS gets stuck in the middle with the public wanting free healthcare but without paying higher taxes, and with the costs of healthcare increasing due to larger aging population and the higher costs of newer diagnosis/treatments (MRI machines etc). So politicians can never set their budget as high as they want, because to do so they need to put taxes up.

But we at least are all guaranteed free healthcare even if circumstances mean we can't afford to pay for it (eg because we're too ill to work).

Re:What a fuckup (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912719)

But we at least are all guaranteed free healthcare even if circumstances mean we can't afford to pay for it (eg because we're too ill to work).

Unless you're too old, or too fat, or smoke, or you die in the two years you're waiting for treatment.

Re:What a fuckup (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about 2 years ago | (#41912723)

Healthcare is always strapped for cash...

Huh, must be a British thing.

That's what I was thinking. Around here, healthcare spends as much as possible to keep their "non-profit" status.

Re:What a fuckup (2)

garcia (6573) | about 2 years ago | (#41912693)

In a past life I worked as a manager of a college's records department. We were putting all records onto a document imaging system beginning with more current records (paper -> scanner -> DIS) which kept all files current.

There was a legacy storage system (microfiche) which, when someone requested records or when we had spare staff/time, was converted adhoc to the new system. We didn't charge previous students for this service even though it was a huge fucking hassle.

This should be the same thing. The onus is on the organization to do this, not the person requesting their records.

He should seek legal advice. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912231)

That's more than the statutory maximums in both the Access to Health Records Act 1990 and Data Protection Act 1998 (as amended), which is £50 (if the records are a combination of computer and paper) or £10 (computer only).

This is not legal advice, but it is a recommendation that he should seek legal advice.

Re:He should seek legal advice. (3, Informative)

Sporkinum (655143) | about 2 years ago | (#41912347)

What is the length of time requirement to keep records? In the US, for most medical studies, it's 7 years. He would be outside that here.

Re:He should seek legal advice. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912405)

So you have no medical history older than 7 years?
Hope you never need to prove you had some required shots.

Re:He should seek legal advice. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912501)

So you have no medical history older than 7 years?

Yes and no. Records about former patients are kept for at least 7 years then can be destroyed, if the patient was not seen during that time.

During that those 7 years with no patient care, hopefully copies of the records will be transferred to the patient's current healthcare provider (or the patient).

Records about current patients (even if very old) are to be kept indefinitely.

Re:He should seek legal advice. (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | about 2 years ago | (#41912683)

I work in medical imaging. When we migrated images to our new system, we went back between 7-8 years for most. We still have the old system running for as requested comparisons, but it is being decommissioned at the end of this month. There are exceptions, and the retention periods vary by state. http://www.xrayfilmsrecycling.com/state-law/ [xrayfilmsrecycling.com]
We migrated based on retention rules.

Re:He should seek legal advice. (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#41912679)

Not sure why you are being sarcastic to him, since he's right, it's pretty easy to look up.

It somewhat varies due to different state laws, and the *recommendations* are generally 10 years, but 5-7 is a pretty common *requirement*. Of course that's the minimum, if your doctor/group/HMO doesn't suck I would think they would probably keep more, especially now that things are mostly digital.

Though as far as I can tell none require them to provide the data in any raw format (besides basic imaging/x-rays). An interpreted summary/result (which they already gave the guy in the article) is sufficient (by law at least).

Re:He should seek legal advice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912753)

They have lost my medical records from when I was a child.
I was quite ill when I was young and went in and out of hospitals all the time.

Luckily I am a lot better now, I just hope that there is nothing "interesting" in those lost records.

Re:He should seek legal advice. (1)

Malenx (1453851) | about 2 years ago | (#41912861)

That's up to the patient to track, not the medical provider.

Re:He should seek legal advice. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912623)

There is no statutory limit, but the Department for Health has guidelines on minimums in the absence of any local policy.

http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_4131747

In practice, they are usually kept until some time after the patient dies.

Re:He should seek legal advice. (2)

Shrike Valeo (2198124) | about 2 years ago | (#41912353)

Had no idea that it became £50, but I am curious on the reaction with such a request and threat of legal action if it's not complied with.

Legal advice is sound advice, It's no more a standard request than requesting a copy of records from any data controller.. their fault for preventing their own access.. time for them (well, the taxpayer in the end, as always) to pay up

HL7 extracts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912235)

HL7 interfaces, bitches.

Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (2, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 2 years ago | (#41912239)

>> A statement from the trust (Britain's single payer health care system) said: "The trust does have the visual data on file but the cost of generating an image from what is now obsolete technology is not a cost effective use of public money.

Good thing there's no chance of the US going to a single-payer system...er...am I right?

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912325)

So 1 person has some trouble getting some old files vs our current system where we let folks with cancer die.

Yeah, what a terrible tradeoff.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#41912423)

So 1 person has some trouble getting some old files vs our current system where we let folks with cancer die.

Yeah, what a terrible tradeoff.

You know, after they died they certainly will not ask for old pictures. Problem solved.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 years ago | (#41912747)

So 1 person has some trouble getting some old files vs our current system where we let folks with cancer die.

Yeah, what a terrible tradeoff.

You know, after they died they certainly will not ask for old pictures. Problem solved.

Further than the "solution by death" system -- if the system is that old, why do they still have the records?

The problem I usually have is that all records older than about 5 years are destroyed, meaning that unless I specifically request the records and store them myself, all my long-term medical records vanish, leaving only a log of actions taken. Surely they can access records that are only 5 years old?

I'd love to live somewhere where this situation is even an issue.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912453)

In Britain they don't just let them die, they send them up the Liverpool Care Pathway.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912649)

Stop reading the dailyfail.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912471)

You've failed to mention that both systems will let folks with cancer die. Socialist medicine has proven to fail (Canada), and the steps we've taken towards it in USA have failed (Obamacare is causing all small and medium sized hospitals to go bankrupt - mine only survived because it is the largest one within a few hundred miles). People will die no matter what - it's just a matter of how much free stuff we give to people who don't work for it before they die. Somebody has to pay for it (before you say "government", where does gov't get its money? That's right, it's your money and my money).

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912531)

I disagree with your claim that it has failed in Canada.
It appears to be working fine, for an good example check out life expectancies.

People always die, selecting who lives based on who has the most money is immoral.

I pay my taxes happily, in the knowledge that they buy me the civilization I expect. That is the entire point.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41912539)

Socialist medicine has proven to fail (Canada)...

Obamacare is causing all small and medium sized hospitals to go bankrupt...

it's just a matter of how much free stuff we give to people who don't work for it before they die...

Considering your positions, I assume a request for citation will fall on deaf ears?

That's normally what happens when I ask bald-faced liars for reference, anyway.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912757)

Eh, such a request would probably be heard and answered, but said answer would probably just be stream-of-consciousness gibberish whose only discernible phrases are "job-killing legislation", "job-creators", "class warfare", "socialism", and most importantly derivatives of the word "Obama". Then the speaker would stare expectantly at you as if the only possible human response to this speech were for you to immediately throw out your hybrid car and buy an SUV in a sudden passionate fit of PATRIOTISM(tm), followed by burning down the local welfare office and pulling your kids out of science class to go to church.

When, instead, your response is to ask for clarification, the speaker would pause for a beat, twitch involuntarily, and start another, similar stream of gibberish. This will repeat (trust me, the speaker has alllllll the time in the world) until you nod your head politely and pretend to agree, then run in one direction for an hour.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1, Informative)

cdrguru (88047) | about 2 years ago | (#41912607)

Not sure you can say the Canadian system has "failed". They have had their problems and when there isn't enough government money to go around, their system is terrible. But conversely, when the government is rolling in dough the system works fine.

I suspect the US will have the same experience shortly. But post-Vietnam when has the government had enough money? For a little while during the dot-com boom, I suppose, but not really any other time. So I would expect that if you look at Canada in the 1980s when people were waiting months for any sort of health service and the answer to a lot of health care questions was that they used up the budget for that operation already - you have to wait until next year - this will reflect the US experience soon to come.

Oh, and don't forget that the government tax load in Canada is more like 70% of your income. That is what it is going to take here as well, if not more. With the local taxes and state taxes added in you may find yourself getting 10% of your gross pay as take-home.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912665)

We could easily come up with the cash. I imagine canceling a war or two might pay for it? Or maybe we could limit ourselves to only 2x as many aircraft carriers as the rest of the world combined.

Tax load is not 70% in Canada.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 2 years ago | (#41912713)

don't forget that the government tax load in Canada is more like 70% of your income./blockquote> Bullshit! I am Canadian and my tax load is no where near 70% of my income.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912749)

See, this is the sort of BS we have to deal with in the USA.

We have an entire political party that makes the claims that jackass spouted.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912733)

Socialist medicine has proven to fail (Canada).

Failed at what. Every Canadian I've every spoken to loves there health cares system. Every American I know hates ours. The only people who think Canada failed are drug and insurance companies. The US system is insanely expansive for what little it provides. Who do you think is getting that extra money? Now you know exactly who is fighting to prevent the system from improving.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (0)

Teun (17872) | about 2 years ago | (#41912805)

First off Obamacare is not Socialist anything, it's a form of insurance.

The British and many European health systems are based on the Socialist principle of sharing the burden and in places like Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands it works very well thank you!
In the countries mentioned all save for a few multi-millionaires would be very upset to get it traded in for the US non-system.
(The success of the British system is very debatable but that's probably a cultural thing)

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41912545)

I am thrilled to hear that we have a cure for cancer.

If you look carefully, I think you will find that all healthcare systems let people with cancer die.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912585)

With no care at all?
That claim does not reflect reality.

There are many cancers that are treatable or curable. In most of the first world this care is available to all citizens. In the USA if you lack a method of paying for said care you will be given pain killers by an ER doctor and sent home.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1, Troll)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 years ago | (#41912797)

With no care at all? That claim does not reflect reality.

Yes, that claim does not reflect reality. Until we get the appointed board that controls the costs of Obamacare by deciding who is worth getting treated and who isn't.

By the way, cancer isn't treated in ERs. Funny how an ER doctor wouldn't treat it, huh?

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about 2 years ago | (#41912777)

I am thrilled to hear that we have a cure for cancer.

If you look carefully, I think you will find that all healthcare systems let people with cancer die.

Oh... don't be a dick. You know very well that he's talking about the provision of appropriate treatment regardless of current financial state.

And yes, we currently have a cure for several types of cancer.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

Daas (620469) | about 2 years ago | (#41912331)

A private insurance company would have for sure spared no expense to recover this man's files...

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41912355)

Yes, then instead of someone being forced to actually make a decision and admit that they are actually refusing, he could have had a fun game of "go ask your mother - Go ask your father" where nobody actually acknowledges that they have made a decision in any form.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 2 years ago | (#41912363)

I'm trying to understand your point, but it's so unbelievably stupid I can't believe it's true.

Are you suggesting that in a system like what we have today, someone would actually spend the $3000+ they're asking to retrieve the records?

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 2 years ago | (#41912373)

First paragraph of TFA (emphasis added):

Andrew Brown, 49, requested a copy of a cardiac ultrasound he had in 2004 at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

2004 means nobody can reasonably claim that it's obsolete to the tune of £2000. Dude needs to sue the hospital and the government. This isn't a failing of single payer, it's corruption through and through.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912445)

So who would have been paying the 2000 if he had been living in the US?

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912457)

Clearly he would have forced to pay even more and the GP would have suggested the guy select a better hospital next time. He would also also stated that you have no right to question what the job creators want to charge for access to your own records.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 2 years ago | (#41912811)

you don't "select" a hospital in the NHS system you go to your local one or to a specialized one in your trust's area eg i have gone to cambridge for bone density and to Lister to see the nephrologist.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (0)

loshwomp (468955) | about 2 years ago | (#41912653)

Good thing there's no chance of the US going to a single-payer system...er...am I right?

As I noted elsewhere, every british citizen could get ripped off in this fashion at least twice per year and still pay less for health care (per capita) than we do in the USA. The USA spends about $6000 per capita *more* than the UK (and despite this the USA does not even manage to cover everyone).

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#41912725)

In the US it would have been both beyond any legal requirement to keep records (which is usually 5-7 years) and allowed to charge a fee based on the actual cost of making the copy. So doubly screwed by that amazing private health care system.

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 2 years ago | (#41912773)

the NHS isn't the same model as single payer are you thinking of the German style model

Re:Single Payer Cost Board Says "No" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912823)

a) the story is bullshit - no-one would get charged that.
b) notwithstanding a) they could move to a new GP and request their records from there - the old GP will have an obligation to provide them to the new GP, problem solved.
c) £2K looks like chicken feed compared to what te poor fuckers have to pay under the US health-"care" system,

Why should the patient have to pay? (4, Insightful)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about 2 years ago | (#41912241)

Why should the patient have to pay 200 times as much money to access records when the difficulty isn't his fault?

The company that was incompetent and stored things in an inefficient manner should cover the cost. Charging this incompetence to the patient shouldn't be legal.

Re:Why should the patient have to pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912383)

Same for car repairs!

Why should I have to pay 10x as much to get my transmission repaired just because I chose the wrong car manufacturer!

Re:Why should the patient have to pay? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41912499)

Cars are well documented and have a have a standard repair schedule

So this kind of shenanigan is unlikely to happen with a car.

THIS is why stuff needs to be maintainable. THIS is why computing devices and software needs to be just as open to those that might want to provide 3rd party support services.

This $2000 price tag sounds familiar...

Re:Why should the patient have to pay? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | about 2 years ago | (#41912687)

You are joking, right?

The federal government has rules that say for a car to be sold in the US there must be a 10 year committment to supply parts for that car. Funny, but I had a 1998 Dodge Stealth which was actually made by Mitsubishi. In 2001 the antilock brake controller failed and I was told that not only was it a $2900 part but the part was no longer available and they would have to try to find one in a junkyard.

Government regulation only works when the regulations are followed.

By the way, the cost for this is certainly just to penalize someone - having worked with a number of companies that do obsolete format media conversion this is a price that says "I don't want to do this so the price is 10x normal". It could also be that the patient is just being annoying about this and being charged for being annoying. An 8-year-old test likely has as much relevance as an 8-year-old sandwich.

Re:Why should the patient have to pay? (1)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about 2 years ago | (#41912391)

Every old medical system I've seen is stored in some odd format or database. Most smaller clinic don't migrate records because of the insane costs that the vendors want to charge and instead migrate the information over on a client by client basis as they come in the office. If they patient doesn't come in for a number of years the records never get transferred. Since many of these systems cost yearly fees to run, after some point they are just shut off.

This isn't the patients fault. I will go as far and say that it isn't the hospitals fault either, it seems every system is proprietary, especially the older systems. What needs to occur is an open records format that is legislated.

Re:Why should the patient have to pay? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912447)

It is the hospitals fault for selecting such a system. The hospital should have required any vendor provide the database schema and an export tool at the time the software was purchased.

Re:Why should the patient have to pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912495)

Yeah and every vendor would have just laughed in their face and walked out.

Re:Why should the patient have to pay? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912565)

At which point the hospitals should have contracted such a system. Accepting this situation is their own fault.

Re:Why should the patient have to pay? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912813)

I work for a large company that develops medical record database software, so this is kinda my thing.

We refuse to allow even qualified local database/IT consultants touch anything in the database. A single update or delete statement ran on the live database invalidates their support contact if we wish. That's not to say the whole .db file is proprietary, we (begrudgingly) allow third party companies to access the database to pull email/reminder information. Or, in the case of the pharmaceutical companies: Client Name, address, phone number, invoices and prescriptions. Because you know, marketing. Ironically, it was this step - selling data to other companies, that finally put our division in the black. It's kinda nice not having to worry about HIPAA (veterinary industry).

We provide the conversions from almost all of our competitors and our legacy products. Conversion costs depend on what is converted, such as ONLY medical records, or billing history too? Images? Reminders? Inventory history? It can get pricey, sure, but that is the cost of the switch. Most of the time, conversions is only a small part of the cost of transitioning, the cost of retraining the staff is usually more than the software and hardware itself.

Yeah well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912251)

How did none of this data get pushed forward when the old systems were replaced with new, incompatible ones? Nobody saw this problem coming?

Other than "You have terminal cancer," (3, Insightful)

MoonRabbit (596371) | about 2 years ago | (#41912255)

The last thing I want to hear at my doctor's office is "we're getting a new computer system."

Re:Other than "You have terminal cancer," (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 2 years ago | (#41912393)

As an electrical engineer that does consulting work, that's something I *want* to hear.

Re:Other than "You have terminal cancer," (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912865)

Well they'd need a new computer system, wouldn't they? You can't run a hospital with cancer in the terminals.

maybe a simple solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912263)

He needs to get an appointment for something where the hospital will be required to access the old medical records. If they don't access the records they could be liable for any problems from a misdiagnosis. So they will copy them to the new system (especially if they see more requests coming down the line) and then the guy can ask for a copy of the new set of records.

An inspiring new way to raise funds! (4, Insightful)

InvisibleClergy (1430277) | about 2 years ago | (#41912265)

So instead of having migration costs, just charge your customers for your migration! Think about it - if you go to the bank, the teller tells you that it will cost you $2,000 to withdraw money because the system in which they store your account info is still on Windows ME! It sounds glorious. I am doing this immediately.

Oh, wait, no. I only work on ancient systems. Whoops.

who's problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912279)

How is this his problem? The hospital failed to plan and now they are passing that cost to their customer? Great business...

mod 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912287)

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Re:mod 0p (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#41912397)

How many of you think this thing might just be the modern equivalent to a numbers station?

Re:mod 0p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912845)

I thought it was APK for a bit, but there is no mention of the hosts file.

Records Retention? (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | about 2 years ago | (#41912337)

What are the record retention requirements in the UK? These records are from 2004. They'd have been destroyed at this point in Michigan (5 years last I looked). That said, if its within the record retention rules, you'd be a fool not to have them in some accessible format.

Re:Records Retention? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912365)

Medical records are only kept for less than 5 years in Michigan?

That cannot be correct. Human medical histories have value a lot longer than that.

Re:Records Retention? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41912533)

Hell. I DVD rips that are older than that. Most of my MP3 collection is twice older than that.

Perhaps it's time for open formats, thumb drives, and people doing for themselves.

Re:Records Retention? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | about 2 years ago | (#41912739)

But the relevance of a test from eight years ago is approximately zero.

The only possible use of such a test would be to compare it against something current, but likely as not any real relevance would only be obtained if you had tests more frequently to compare against. And still, what does the current doctor want with an eight year old test? Most of the time anything over three or four years old is ignored and new tests are ordered.

The truth of the matter is that people's bodies change over time.

Re:Records Retention? (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 2 years ago | (#41912597)

That's bizarre. In California I found myself in the ER over a pretty bad infection. I hadn't been in the hospital since I was a little kid (I'm 26 now), so when they were asking for my contact info, they gave me the phone number I had when I was 5 years old and asked if it was correct. After giving them the relevant info, I jokingly asked when my last few visits were for, and they read off 4 entries all dating back to when I was 4 to 8. There were charts and all sorts of stuff attached to my file.

I was blown away, and also a bit creeped out at the same time.

Re:Records Retention? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#41912791)

They are not required to be *destroyed* after 5 years, they are required to be *kept* for 5 years. It's a minimum guarantee to patients, not a maximum.

It would be pretty awful medicine to require doctors not to be able to know your heath history longer than that!

Won't happen... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912345)

They may have asked him for £2,000 but he won't have to pay it:

From the UK Information Commissioner's Office:

http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_the_public/personal_information.aspx
You have the right to get a copy of the information that is held about you. This is known as a subject access request...Organisations may charge a fee of up to £10 (£2 if it is a request to a credit reference agency for information about your financial standing only).There are special rules that apply to fees for paper based health records (the maximum fee is currently £50) and education records (a sliding scale from £1 to £50 depending on the number of pages provided).

Re:Won't happen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912763)

Not necessarily. Also on that page:

The organisation should give you the information in writing but they need not do this if it is not possible, if it takes ‘disproportionate effort’ or if you agree to some other form, such as seeing it on screen.

If he insists on only paying £50 then they may just give him the unreadable binary file, if they genuinely don't have the ability to read the file themselves.

Mis-use of the term DRM (2)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 2 years ago | (#41912433)

and DRM-free, too?"

Do you understand what "DRM" and "DRM-free" would equate to when it comes to your medical records?

Re:Mis-use of the term DRM (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41912551)

> Do you understand what "DRM" and "DRM-free" would equate to when it comes to your medical records?

There would be some Linux tool that could decode it without being in any sort of legal grey area. I could always be sure that there is a decoder for the data even when the format becomes obsolete. I would not be at the mercy of the clinic or whatever medical device vendor they used.

Re:Mis-use of the term DRM (1)

Revotron (1115029) | about 2 years ago | (#41912583)

^ this.

Calling this DRM is ridiculous. If I can't play AVI movies on an MPEG media player, that's not DRM, that's a format discrepancy.

Re:Mis-use of the term DRM (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41912593)

and DRM-free, too?"

Do you understand what "DRM" and "DRM-free" would equate to when it comes to your medical records?

No kidding - personally, I think medical records would be the one place you would want some pretty strong DRM...

Re:Mis-use of the term DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912605)

I would like my medical records published in the clear online, with no encryption or other DRM encumbrances! Who wouldn't?!

Learning the hard way (2)

BeanThere (28381) | about 2 years ago | (#41912441)

You and ultimately only you are responsible for managing your own health. I learned a similar lesson when I left the only copies I had of an expensive MRI of my back, showing my back problems, at a doctor's office, and some time later requested them only to learn that "we threw them out, sorry, nothing we can do". The fact is that nobody is going to care about your own health like you are going to, so if any medical documents are important to you, keep records of them. This is your life, take responsibility for it .. it sucks, but he really should have made copies when it was still in an easily accessible format. I know, 20/20 hindsight. Young 'uns, learn from the mistakes of others.

Using force to compel every doctor or hospital to keep every record ever in a conveniently accessible way would be ridiculous, it's not only immoral, it would cause already overpriced healthcare to dramatically rise further in price, and we'd all have to pay higher costs so that all the doctors and hospitals could keep records that aren't actually important or will never be accessed.

Re:Learning the hard way (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41912491)

It is immoral to force doctors to live up to some sort of standard?

Then what do you think of medical licensing or even education?

Storing a png of this record costs near nothing.

Re:Learning the hard way (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | about 2 years ago | (#41912695)

Storing a png of this record costs near nothing.

Sure, if you're the only patient the hospital has. The storage of the records is probably not as significant as the organizing and retrievability of specific records for specific patients in a system with thousands or hundreds of thousands of patients.

Re:Learning the hard way (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 years ago | (#41912727)

It is immoral to force doctors to live up to some sort of standard?

That depends on what that "some sort of" standard is, now doesn't it?

I mean, apparently, based on your previous comments, your standard is "never 'let' anyone with cancer die", which is, unfortunately, an impossible standard and would thus be immoral to try to enforce. Depending on the penalties for failure, you'd have a mass exodus from the field of oncology and nobody with cancer would be able to get treatment. Kinda like the high price of malpractice insurance limiting the availability of OBs.

If the standard is "goes to school to learn how to be a doctor and passes some exams to show a minimum level of knowledge", then that's not sush a high standard that it cannot be met and wouldn't be immoral to enforce.

Storing a png of this record costs near nothing.

Yes, but getting it into a PNG format might cost something, depending on the original format. A paper EKG, for example, would have a non-zero cost being converted, especially considering the expense of quality control on the process. Google can scan old books relatively cheaply because nobody will die if they have bad scans included in a book (and they have a lot of them).

The summary of this article is typically off-kilter. Obsolete formats don't have anything to do with DRM or "vendor independence". As just one example, floppies, for most people, are an obsolete format, and the data they contain is likely not DRMd nor is it vendor specific. I have a drawer of optical disks that are unreadable today, yet back when they were, they would fit in any industry standard magnetooptical drive, and the data they contain is, in large part, jpegs.

Re:Learning the hard way (1)

Lithdren (605362) | about 2 years ago | (#41912689)

That's the thing about healthcare, you may not realize you have something someone else really REALLY needs, until its too late.

I dont see whats 'immoral' about holding doctors to the same standard as i'd hold to an accountant, frankly. If anything they should be held to a higher standard, if thats something they cant handle, then maybe they shouldn't be doctors.

That said, you'd think they'd be the first folks on the front lines demanding things like open formats, to make this stuff easier for them. That wont happen unless they're actually held responsible for it however.

I'm about to start up a new venture. (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about 2 years ago | (#41912461)

Low cost storage of other people's data using obsolete formats then charging them zillions to convert it into another obsolete format, ad infinitum! Any suggestions on which governments might be gullible enough to accept my offer?

Electronic Standards for Records (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912467)

Regarding the comments about Health Record storage... we are getting there. HL7's CDA document type is used in the US to generate CCDs, which are basically just XML documents with some nice formatting. Based on what is happening in the US with Meaningful Use, I would imagine this will soon be the standard way medical records are archived.

Standards-Compliant System FTW (1)

Revotron (1115029) | about 2 years ago | (#41912529)

That's ridiculous - why don't they have a computer and software left over from the old system that can access this data? Did somebody just not think and throw that out in their last device refresh?

The NHS made the right choice selecting a standards-compliant EHR system for their recent changeover. Adhering to industry standards like HL7 will ensure that this problem will never happen with the new system they have in place.

No, not his right. (1)

Quick Reply (688867) | about 2 years ago | (#41912541)

The records are longer than the legal maximum retention period. You can't expect hospitals to keep every X-Ray you ever had forever, not only is there privacy issues (some people don't like the idea) the cost of unlimited data retention is enormous. He should have requested it while it was still within the legal time for it to be kept, otherwise anything more is just a favour to him that they can get it to him at all even with the fee, because it costs money to bring an obsolete system back online, as it was decommissioned since it is no longer required (past the legal maximum).

I'm sure the obsolete system was running just fine in parallel in new system while the records were still under legal obligation and without expensive fees.

It's better than most places that they will still have the obsolete system at all that CAN be bought online. Most places would have destroyed the data by now.

Apple for example, completely wiped the MobileMe data as soon as MobileMe was switched off. Actual conversion I had with them for someone else who didn't know it was been Shut Off until it actually stopped working:
Apple: Yes Sir the Service has just stopped working because it has been decommissioned for iCloud.
Me: How do I get the data back?
Apple: Well we have put out notices to your MobileMe email (that they never use) for months that it is going to be shut down and you need to transition before then, now it's been shut down and we can't transition the data anymore.
Me: How do I get the data back now?
Apple: The data has been physically wiped from the servers and can't be retrieved even if we wanted to.

Microsoft have done it too with Microsoft Office Live Small Business.

Or Google, switch it off so you can see it's not working and then normally give you a year to download your data from a killed product.

Not fair to ask the CEO to cover the cost of his extraordinary required. If these records are important to him, pay, If not that important, don't. The choice is his.

Re:No, not his right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912815)

according to this http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/1889.aspx?CategoryID=68&SubCategoryID=160 it seems it should still be covered by the data retention rules.

Still a bargain. (1)

loshwomp (468955) | about 2 years ago | (#41912581)

Some perspective:

Every british citizen could get ripped off in this manner twice each year, and still come out way ahead compared to the USA. As bad as the $2000 fee sounds, if he moved to the USA he would pay an average of $6000 extra per year for his health care.

It's time for single payer, and if you disagree, this price differential is the bar your alternative proposal needs to clear before I bother paying attention to you.

Re:Still a bargain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912643)

Yes, but how high are your taxes? And how long do you wait to see the doctor?

All those pounds have to come from somewhere, and that somewhere isn't parliament's ass.

Re:Still a bargain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912671)

So tax money doesn't factor into this at all?

The evil that is laser disc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41912635)

From the article it looks like laser disc. I bet someone has the equipment. A round number fee like that always feels like a fuck off quote. The really good question is why did they throw out their machine in the first place. Where I work once a year people have 5 and a quarters that they want info off and we just keep the machine in the corner to make them happy.

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