NPC chief: Only vital info from patient can be disclosed to authorized party

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Raymund Liboro, chair of the National Privacy Commission (NPC), has issued a statement to Newsbytes.PH clarifying that there is no need to call for Covid-19 patients to waive their health data as existing laws already allow the processing of such information even without their consent.

NPC chair Raymund Liboro

“There is no point in calling for patients to waive this right in a public health emergency. The Data Privacy Act of 2012 and the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Disease and Health Events for Public Health Concerns Act (RA 11332) allow the processing of patient’s medical data with a notifiable disease like Covid-19 even without a patient’s consent,” he said.

Liboro said he agrees with the assertion in the joint plea made by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), and the Philippine College of Surgeons (PCS) that the “right of patients to the confidentiality of their medical records is not absolute”.

He said the Department of Health (DOH) and other public authorities may “use, share, and disclose medical data for the treatment of patients, contact tracing, and disease surveillance to prevent the spread.”

“They can also share the data with referral hospitals that will attend and manage Covid-19 patients,” the privacy commissioner said.

With regard to sharing information with private health institutions, Liboro said the DOH would be in the best position to determine if such is consistent with and in keeping with the provisions of RA11332 and other applicable protocols in a pandemic.

“In any case, the disclosure should be limited to the necessary medical information to accomplish its purpose to those patients and not to deny them much-needed medical care,” he said.

Liboro emphasized, however, that only the proper authorities are entitled to process the medical data and that not everyone should have access to Covid-19 patient information. “Your medical record is not for the public to see,” he said.

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