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Appendix 2: Ownership and transfer of records

Ownership

Contrary to what patients may believe, healthcare records generally belong to the establishment that created them. Patients have rights concerning the information contained in their records, but they do not normally own the actual documents or electronic files. The exception is where a patient has paid for records or images.18

See the HPCSA’s guidance – Guidelines on the Keeping of Medical Records – for details about the correct procedures for managing medical records after a practitioner dies or decides to cease practising.

Transferring records

If a patient transfers to another doctor, you may forward a copy of the patient’s records to the new doctor, while retaining the original for your own records. These should be disposed of at the end of the retention period in your records management policy (See Retention of medical records in Appendix 1).