Dutch Affairs / English / Thoughts

In the name of privacy

There is an interesting case in protecting privacy this week in the Netherlands. A request of family of a man who committed suicide to see his file was rejected. In a file, there are medical information about his sessions with his psychologist.

After a suicide of a patient, the Health Institute (where patients with psychological problem are treated) is to report this to Inspection of Health. This has to check whether the Health Institute had done the right thing to help the patient. So this procedure was done with this particular man’s file, who succesfully committed suicide.

While the Inspection of Health was checking this file, the man’s family wanted to acces the file which was OK by the Inspection of Health. The Health Institute however objected and succeed at Supreme Court in preventing the family to get the file. The reason was protecting the privacy of the patient. Health Institutes are afraid that patients with psychological problem would be reluctant to get help if they know that after their death, the file would possibly be read by others.

Personally, I think the family has the right to know what had happened before the patient came to end his life but only the family not other people. In case of suicides families are left with many questions. Perhaps, reading the medical report could give them some answers so they can go on with their life.


2 thoughts on “In the name of privacy

  1. I imagine this is like a priest who got a murder confession from a murderer. As a priest he must keep everything he heard in the confession box all to himself, but as a citizen he has a responsibility to inform the authority about this dangerous person. At the end it all comes back to the conscience.

  2. El,

    A nice comparison you wrote about the priester and confession of a murderer but still, I’m convinced that the close relatives of the patient must be able to access the file.

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