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Can I Get Compensation For Loss of Medical Records? – Can I Claim Compensation For Lost Medical Records

By Daniel Archer. Last Updated 9th May 2022. Welcome to our guide on claiming lost medical records compensation. If you’re looking to claim compensation for the loss of your medical records, you may be doing so because you’ve suffered harm because of the loss. If you have a concern such as ‘my medical records have gone missing’, this could potentially lead to psychological damage or even financial loss. Or it could potentially lead to discrimination on the grounds of your medical history.

We have created this guide to give you information and advice on claiming compensation for lost medical records.

compensation for loss of medical records

Loss of medical records data breach claims guide

In the sections below, we explain how the NHS and other healthcare providers should protect the confidentiality of your personal data.

We explain what happens if medical records are lost and how to calculate compensation for the harm you’ve suffered because of such an incident.

In addition to this, we answer common questions about lost records, and how our team could help you if you’d like to start a claim. If you have any questions while reading this guide, or would like us to offer you a free eligibility check on your case, you can reach our team of expert advisors on 0800 073 8804. You can also reach us online via our contact page or our 24/7 live chat service.

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A Guide To Claiming Compensation For Loss Of Medical Records

Your medical records could contain some sensitive personal information. Whether you’ve sought medical help at the GP, hospital or another healthcare provider, the organisation that holds your records should take care to protect them.

If, however, an organisation loses your medical records, this could have a number of unwelcome consequences. It could affect the treatment you receive, but it could also lead you to suffer emotionally, as you may be anxious about what the loss of your medical records could mean for you.

You could potentially claim compensation for the loss of medical records with the help of our data breach solicitors. That’s provided that you can prove that an organisation holding these records failed to take the correct steps to prevent their loss. Your claim will also need to establish that the loss of your medical records caused you to suffer either financial or mental harm or both.

How This Guide Could Help

We have created this guide to explain more about the process and to give you some useful insight into how organisations should protect your personal data from being breached. In the following sections, you can find out the types of data that organisations should work to protect. We explain who could gain access to your medical records and why the loss of your records could be considered a data breach. You’ll also find answers to common questions such as:

  • My GP lost my medical records, leading to my treatment being delayed – could I claim?
  • What happens if my medical records have gone missing?
  • Can I sue for lost medical records?
  • Can you be liable if you or your staff lose a patient’s medical records?
  • Why is it important to find lost medical records?
  • How much compensation for lost medical records could I claim?

In addition to this, we reveal the different types of compensation you could claim for a breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR), and how a data breach solicitor could help you make a claim.

What Is The Loss Of Medical Records?

The loss of medical records, whether by NHS England or another healthcare provider, could be considered a breach of your data protection. Whether your medical records are held on computers or in paper format, it is essential that they are kept confidential. This is because they contain personal data.

Under the Data Protection Act 2018, any data controller that collects, stores or processes personal data should protect the privacy and security of that information. But what are medical records, and why could the loss of medical records be considered a data breach?

What Are My Medical Records?

Your medical records contain personal details such as:

  • Your name
  • Address
  • Your email address
  • Details of medical conditions you may have
  • Test results
  • Information regarding injuries and illnesses

They could be held on computers or on paper records. Regardless, all of the information in those medical records should be kept confidential. If your data privacy has been exposed because your medical records have been lost, this could be considered a data breach.

What Is A Data Breach?

A data breach, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), is a data security incident leading to personal data being:

  • Stolen
  • Accessed without authorisation/unlawfully
  • Transmitted, disclosed, stored, altered or processed without authorisation/unlawfully
  • Lost

How Could A Breach Of Data Happen?

There could be a variety of reasons a data breach happens. A data security incident could be the result of a cybersecurity issue, such as hacking, a cyber-attack involving a virus, malware, spyware, denial-of-service (DDoS) or ransomware.

It could also be the result of a human error, such as someone misplacing a folder containing personal information or sending data to the wrong recipient. It could even include the loss of computer equipment that contains patients’ records.

Types Of Medical Records Which Should Be Handled With Confidentiality

All medical records should be handled confidentially. This includes:

  • Handwritten medical notes
  • Records and reports that are computer-generated
  • Lab test results
  • X rays
  • Consent forms
  • Monitoring reports
  • Scan images, such as X-rays and MRIs

The Hospital Has Lost My Medical Records – Could I Claim?

You could potentially claim for the loss of medical records if such a loss causes you financial harm (also known as material damage) or psychological harm (also known as non-material damage), such as anxiety, distress or depression. However, your claim will need to establish that an organisation was responsible for holding and protecting your medical records. You’ll also need to establish that the same organisation failed to take the correct steps to keep your medical records secure.

There is also a time limit for when data breach claims, including those related to lost medical records, can be started. The standard time limit is one year when claiming against a public body or six years when claiming against other kinds of organisations.

If you’d like us to assess your case to see if you could be eligible for compensation for the loss of medical records, we’d be happy to advise you.

Who Could Access Your Medical Records?

Your medical records should only be accessed by those who need them in order to provide you with care, or if you provide consent for them to be shared. You can also access your medical records yourself if you would like to. To do so, you would need to make a subject access request to your healthcare provider, which could be your GP or your NHS Foundation Trust. They should then provide you with the information they have on you.

If someone else wants to access your records, they must, according to the NHS:

  • Have obtained a legal authority (such as a power of attorney) to access your records
  • Be acting on your behalf, and have your consent to do so
  • Have a legal basis for such access

How Could Your Medical Records Be Lost?

There are various ways in which your medical records could be lost. These could include:

  • Faulty computer systems, software or cloud services
  • A cyber attack that leads to the loss of data, such as a hacking
  • Files being misplaced
  • Reports slipping out of paper files
  • Filing errors

Your claim would need to establish that your medical records were lost while in the possession of an organisation responsible for protecting them. It will also need to prove that the records were lost because the organisation failed to take the correct steps to prevent this data breach from occurring. 

What Harm Could Be Caused By Losing Your Medical Records?

There are different types of damages you could be awarded if you claim lost medical records compensation in the UK. These could include:

  • Financial harm – For example, someone could potentially exploit personal data in your records to access your bank accounts. This could lead to you suffering financially. You may be able to claim for such a loss if your bank is unable to recover your financial loss.
  • Mental harm – The loss of your medical records could also lead you to suffer different psychological injuries. These may include anxiety, distress, depression or loss of sleep.

Further Issues Caused By The Loss Of A Patients Medical Records

Other issues that could result from the loss of medical records could include:

  • A failure to record the time and date of a medication dose could lead to you being under or overmedicated
  • The failure to find a copy of an x-ray or scan could lead to an injury going untreated
  • A failure to find test results could lead to a healthcare provider not following up on treatment
  • The worry of where your medical notes have gone could cause you anxiety or stress

However you’ve been harmed by the loss of your medical records, we could help you. Call or contact our advisors online if you have any questions about claiming for lost medical records.

Can I Sue For Lost Medical Records Compensation?

If you would like to claim compensation for the loss of medical records, you could seek out a data breach lawyer to help you. So how could you find an appropriate solicitor that suits your needs?

You could ask friends and family for a recommendation, or search independent review websites to narrow down your search. Alternatively, you could call our team of advisors and we’ll be happy to help you.

Why Legal Expert?

We have been assisting claimants for years and helping them get the compensation they deserve for a wide variety of cases. During this time, we have received reviews attesting to:

  • Our commitment to customer service
  • Great communication
  • Free eligibility checks
  • Ability to achieve compensation payouts without causing stress to our clients
  • Our expert advice
  • Quality solicitors
  • No Win No Fee service

Calculating Compensation For The Loss Of Medical Records

When data breach solicitors and courts calculate compensation for loss of medical records claims, they would need to assess how the loss has impacted you.

With data breach claims including the loss of medical records, you may be able to claim for one of either material or non-material damages. Or you may be able to claim both at the same time.

In a case from 2015, Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc [2015], the Court of Appeal departed from the previous position that it was necessary to have suffered financial damage in order to claim for mental suffering too. This set a new legal precedent for those who have been harmed by data breaches.

How To Calculate Psychological Compensation For Loss Of Medical Records Payouts

Solicitors and courts assess the relevant evidence surrounding a case to come to an appropriate figure for compensation. You would, therefore, need to submit medical evidence of your psychological injuries in order for you to claim such damages. As part of your data breach claim, you would need to have an appointment with an independent medical expert.

The expert would write a report based on this assessment, detailing your injuries and their opinion on your prognosis.

To help calculate the value of psychological injuries caused by a data breach, solicitors may consult the compensation brackets found in the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). In the table below, you can view some of the compensation brackets found in the JCG. These brackets cover different psychological injuries which may be claimed for if you’ve been affected by a data breach of some kind, such as loss of medical records. Each claim is unique and would be assessed on its own circumstances. Therefore, these compensation brackets should only be treated as rough estimates.

Injury/conditionGuideline Bracket for CompensationNotes
Post traumatic stress disorders£56,180 to £94,470Severe
Cases with general psychological injury£51,460 to £108,620Severe
Post traumatic stress disorders£21,730 to £56,180Moderately severe
Cases with general psychological injury£17,900 to £51,460Moderately severe
Post traumatic stress disorders£7,680 to £21,730Moderate
Cases with general psychological injury£5,500 to £17,900Moderate
Post traumatic stress disorders£3,710 to £7,680Less severe
Cases with general psychological injury£1,440 to £5,500Less severe

No Win No Fee Compensation For The Loss Of Medical Records

Claiming compensation with the help of a data breach solicitor doesn’t have to mean you have to pay your solicitor’s fees upfront. Here at Legal Expert, our data breach lawyers work under No Win No Fee agreements. This means that you won’t be required to pay your solicitor’s fees unless your case succeeds. The process works as follows:

  • Your data breach solicitor sends you a document known as a No Win No Fee Agreement. You will find details of a small, legally capped success fee within this document, which you would only pay if your solicitor achieves a compensation payout for you.
  • Once you sign and return the agreement to your solicitor, they could begin work on your claim. They would negotiate a compensation settlement for you, and support you through the courts if it became necessary for your case to go to court. Your solicitor shouldn’t charge you their fee at the start of or during the process of your claim.
  • If your case succeeds, your solicitor will take a small, legally capped percentage of the compensation you receive from the liable party or their insurer.

If you’re interested in making a No Win No Fee claim but would like to learn more about how it could work, we have created a handy guide. You’re also welcome to contact our advisors using the contact details included below.

Talk To A Specialist Solicitor

If you’re looking to claim compensation for the loss of your medical records, we’d be glad to help you. Our expert advisors could assess your case for free, to see if you could have a valid claim.

We could also answer any questions you might have about claiming compensation. Not only this, but we could potentially provide you with a No Win No Fee data breach lawyer to help you with your claim. If you’d like to talk to us, you can reach the Legal Expert team by:

Data Breach Solicitors

Regardless of where you’re based, we can help you claim data breach compensation. Please see below for some of our dedicated guides:

Other Data Breach Claims Guides

FAQs About The Loss Of Medical Records

How Long Are Medical Records Kept After Death?

According to the British Medical Association, there are different minimum periods for health record retention. These include:

  • GP records in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – 10 years from the death of the patient. Electronic patient records should not be deleted or destroyed for the foreseeable future.
  • Scotland GP Records – 3 years from the date of death of the patient. Electronic patient records should not be deleted or destroyed for the foreseeable future
  • Hospital records of children and young people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – 8 years after death
  • Scotland hospital records for young people and children – 3 years after death
  • Mental health hospital records in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland – 8 years after death
  • All other hospital records (excluding secondary care records) in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland – 8 years from death
  • All other hospital records (excluding secondary care records) in Scotland – 3 years from death

What Are Some Examples Of Losing Medical Records? 

If someone’s medical records have gone missing, then it could be due to a variety of different errors. The loss of medical records may have been digital, for example. To illustrate, updates made to digital records on a computer or other device may not have been saved properly. Alternatively, they may have been accidentally deleted, or deleted intentionally but without the relevant authority or reason to do so.

To give another example, the medical records in question may have been transferred to a USB drive. The USB drive may then have been left on a bus or train and it could have fallen into the wrong hands.

To give a non-digital example, it’s possible that a hard copy of certain medical records may exist. If so, they must be stored in a secure way. To elaborate further, if paper copies of sensitive information are stored in a filing cabinet, this filing cabinet must be secured. Having the cabinet locked is a good way to secure information. If no measures such as these are in place, then the data can be susceptible to being accessed without authority.

As you can see, there are many ways in which medical records could be lost or accessed without authorisation. In some cases, an organisation’s wrongful conduct might result in lost medical records. If so, compensation could possibly be claimed if you experience psychological harm or financial damage as a result of your personal data being breached.

If you want to learn more about whether what you experienced would classify as a breach of personal data, get in touch with our advisors.

Can You Get Someone’s Medical Records After They Die?

Under the Access to Health Records Act 1990, you could access someone else’s medical records after their death if:

  • You are a personal representative (the administrator or executor of the deceased person’s estate)
  • You’re making a claim resulting from a deceased person’s death (this could include relatives, for example)

Only the information directly relating to the claim would be disclosed.

Thank you for reading our guide to claiming compensation for loss of medical records. If you still have queries such as ‘my medical records have gone missing’ or ‘how much compensation for lost medical records could I claim?’, feel free to contact our advisors today.

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