During its human rights activity, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor has identified legislative issues related to transfer of data considered a medical secret, and has presented recommendations aimed at solving them.
Data considered a medical secret can be transferred, without a patient’s or their legal representative’s consent, only to subjects envisaged under law and in a procedure established by the Government.
While this means that in cases, when a patient or their legal representative do not give their consent, the data considered a medical secret should be transferred in a procedure established by the Government, the Government has factually not established a relevant procedure yet.
It is necessary to adopt the RA Government’s draft decision “On establishing the procedure for transferring data considered a medical secret, without a patient's or his legal representative’s consent” as soon as possible. The draft law was put for public discussion in February 2022.
HCA Vanadzor also addressed contradictions in the norms regulating the relations related to transfer of a medical secret in the Law “On medical aid and service to the population” and the Law “On psychiatric aid and service”.
Article 16 of the Law “On psychiatric aid and service” establishes the procedure for transferring the above-mentioned information, which differs from the regulations stemming from Article 11 of the Law “On Medical aid and service to the population”. In particular, while information considered a medical secret in the above-mentioned cases can be transferred only in the procedure established by the Government, the RA Law “On psychiatric aid and service” invokes the procedure established by the Law “On protection of personal data” in this context. Such a differentiation is incomprehensible, since the general term “medical secret” also involves the fact of applying to a psychiatrist or a psychiatric organization, information identified regarding a person’s health state, examination, diagnosis and treatment, and they are also regulated by the Law “On medical aid and service to the population”.
Such a differentiation of regulations of data related to physical and mental health generates controversy and confusion. It is not clear to the data holder which regulations they should be guided by.
Moreover, according to the Law “On medical aid and service to the population”, data considered a medical secret is provided to an investigative body (body conducting operative-intelligence activity), investigator, prosecutor, court, while performing their obligations related to the proceedings, only based on a reasoned decision, whereas, the Law “On psychiatric aid and service” does not envisage such a requirement. At the same time,the legal act, which contains the general regulation, mentions the Human Rights Defender as the subject with the jurisdiction to possess a medical secret, whereas this point is lacking in the Law “On psychiatric aid and service”.
Part 2 of Article 16 of the Law on “Psychiatric aid and service” should establish that the group of observers conducting public monitoring of actions (and inaction) of those implementing psychiatric aid and service is a body entitled to access to a medical secret. Transferring information about the health state of persons receiving psychiatric aid and service to the public group of monitors will make it possible to identify human rights violations in psychiatric institutions and reduce manifestations of ill-treatment.
Click here to read all the recommendations (in Armenian).