Doctors putting Patients at Risk by not keeping Medical Records: says the Council

10/09/2010 15:34

The Consumer Council of Fiji is disappointed that some private doctors in Labasa and in rural areas are not keeping patients medical record thus putting their patients at risk. These doctors should know better on the importance of keeping medical record for their patients. Medical record provides information about patient’s health conditions, the treatments given and the medical diagnoses received. Medical records not only assist patients with chronic illnesses, who may need to see many different specialists where each specialist would like to know what other doctors did but also needed to verify insurance claims and in cases of medical negligence.

The Council believes it is unethical for doctors not to keep patient folders just to save costs or due to sheer laziness. After receiving complaints from consumers, the Council staff conducted investigation, and it was confirmed that some doctors were not keeping patient folders on those visiting them for the first time saying that it was a waste of folders and papers if these patients do not re-visit them. The consumers in Labasa have confirmed that some doctors simply don’t keep patient folder although the doctor is known to them for years. 

We have raised this issue with the Fiji College of General Practitioners (FCGP) however to Council’s disappointment the college has just “informed these doctors on importance of proper patient record” without taking any action.

Council has also received complaints from some consumers on not being properly examined by doctors. According to the complainants some doctors are always in a rush and quickly prescribe medicines without proper examination. Those doctors dispensing medication do not even label dosage instructions correctly on the medication packs. Instead they brief patients verbally on how the medicines should be taken. Council is very much concerned about the poor medical service provided by some private medical practitioners.

Every consumer has the right to expect a good standard of care from their doctors. Consumers should demand doctors to get their folders when they visit doctors. While the Council will seek assistance from Ministry of Health on this matter, we also want the consumers to be more vigilant while visiting doctors. Consumers need to take active role in their health care and ask doctors questions on their sickness, treatments and tests. If consumers don’t understand their doctor’s responses, they should continue asking until they understand.  

If however, consumers feel they have been treated badly, they should lodge complaints with the Consumer Council.