The estate trustee of a deceased doctor has to secure that doctor’s medical records. Standing in the shoes of the deceased doctor, the executor of his or her estate assumes the legal obligation that the doctor had to safeguard the privacy of his or her patients. But, as reported online in the Globe and Mail over the weekend, the Saskatchewan Privacy Czar, Gary Dickson, has raised concerns over the perceived failings of executors of such estates in his province.
As quoted in the Globe and Mail, Gary Dickson states that "A trustee has to take responsible measures to safeguard information…generally that means records being locked away in a place that somebody else doesn’t get access to." Notwithstanding this expectation, Mr. Dickson details various examples of medical records being abandoned or, in one case, being released for profit.
As in Ontario, it appears that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan has bylaws that address the situation of a doctor discontinuing practice but not the situation wherein an estate trustee assumes custody of the records.
The duty of the estate trustee to the patients of the deceased doctor is likely of no concern to the beneficiaries. Accordingly, it would be interesting to consider how the beneficiaries would view a claim by an executor for a special fee for securing these records.
David Morgan Smith
David Morgan Smith – Click here for more information on David Smith.